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Chelsea’s worst January signings – ranked

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Todd Boehly’s scattergun approach to recruitment has done more harm than good thus far, and Chelsea’s new owner is poised to splash the cash in January in a bid to improve the Blues’ current position under Graham Potter.


Thomas Tuchel’s successor has endured a difficult start to life in west London, but there are several mitigating factors in Chelsea’s recent demise. Injuries have taken their toll, and Potter needs reinforcements this winter to bolster his squad in several key positions.

Thus, we’re destined to see a few fresh faces arrive at Stamford Bridge this month for likely extortionate fees. The club’s recruitment, however, has been nothing short of shoddy in recent years.

Speaking of bad business, here are Chelsea’s 10 worst January signings.

Emerson Palmieri

Emerson Palmieri wasn’t of the requisite level / Mike Hewitt/GettyImages

Chelsea completed the signing of Roma full-back Emerson Palmieri at the end of the 2018 January window.

He was far from a disastrous signing, but he failed to establish himself as a regular starter at Stamford Bridge. The Italian defender played 71 times for the club but never made more than 15 Premier League appearances in a single season.

Emerson was a bit-part player during his stay, and it’s hard to imagine many Chelsea fans being too bothered about his departure.

Ricardo Quaresma

Quaresma’s loan spell at Chelsea was forgettable / Ian Walton/GettyImages

Quaresma’s once promising career was seemingly spiralling by the time he wound up at Chelsea on a short-term loan deal in February 2009.

The Portuguese maverick was awarded the prestigious-sounding Bidone d’oro for his efforts during the 2007/08 campaign with Inter. However, the award translates to ‘Golden Bin’ meaning he was essentially named the worst player in Serie A.

Thus, it’s no surprise that he struggled to settle at Stamford Bridge. He made just five appearances for the club before returning to Inter in the summer.

Soccer - UEFA Champions League Group G - Chelsea v Sporting Lisbon

Who? / Matthew Ashton/GettyImages

Salah’s exploits in the Swiss Super League and Champions League with FC Basel convinced Chelsea to take a plunge on the Egyptian in January 2014.

He was a raw commodity but regarded as one of Europe’s most exciting young attacking talents. However, Jose Mourinho disregarded Salah’s potential as the flawed young winger failed to successfully integrate into the first team.

Thus, he was quickly discarded to Serie A where he drifted into obscurity and was never thought of again…

Arsenal v Chelsea - International Champions Cup 2018

No, this is not Australian cricketer Mitch Marsh / Charles McQuillan/GettyImages

By the time Lucas Piazon penned a four-year deal with SC Braga in 2021, the Brazilian was Chelsea’s longest-serving player having joined the club in January 2012.

However, he earned just three first-team appearances during his prolonged service as Chelsea perpetually sent the creative midfielder out on loan.

Piazon enjoyed successful spells at Vitesse and Fulham, but he was never deemed to be of the required quality to make the grade in west London.

Franco Di Santo

Franco Di Santo was not the ‘next Hernan Crespo’ / Ryan Pierse/GettyImages

The ‘next Hernan Crespo’ they cried. Well, had Crespo gotten relegated with Wigan, fail at Schalke before evolving into a underwhelming journeyman, then those projections would’ve been spot on!

Di Santo arrived at Chelsea in 2008 with unhealthily lofty expectations but he did initially shine in the club’s reserves.

An opportunity in the first-team would follow, but after he was loaned out to Blackburn Rovers for the 2009/10 season it quickly became clear that the Argentine forward was no ‘Crespito’ (Little Crespo).

The Blues sold him to Wigan for £2m in 2010.

Jiri Jarosik

Jiri Jarosik has a Premier League winner’s medal / Phil Cole/GettyImages

Jarosik was purchased by the Blues at the start of the January window in 2005 following impressive spells with Sparta Prague and CSKA Moscow.

His highlight during his brief stint at the club was a start in the League Cup final just a month after his arrival, while the Czech midfielder also made enough appearances during the second-half of the 2004/05 season to claim a Premier League winners’ medal.

However, the functional Jarosik was replaced by Michael Essien ahead of the 2005/06 season and was loaned out to Blackburn before leaving the club permanently in 2006.

Fernando Torres, Victor Valdes

Chelsea massively overpaid the odds for Fernando Torres, but he did deliver this moment / Jasper Juinen/GettyImages

Torres was, without question, the toughest player to rank. The Spaniard’s decline had become apparent before Chelsea acquired his services on deadline day in January 2011, yet the Blues opted to splurge £50m on the forward.

It was the panic buy to end all panic buys, and Torres never came close to replicating his early Liverpool form at Stamford Bridge.

But, he did make an impressive 172 appearances for the club and was the protagonist in one of football’s most iconic sequences – a moment permanently entrenched in the collective consciousness of Chelsea supporters.

Vicenza v Chelsea

Mark Bosnich’s Chelsea career ended in disgrace / Grazia Neri/GettyImages

Despite a poor stint at Manchester United, Chelsea’s penniless purchase of Australian goalkeeper Bosnich initially appeared to be a savvy piece of business from the Blues.

However, Bosnich, who was later labelled a ‘terrible professional’ by Sir Alex Ferguson, struggled with injuries after joining the club and barely featured before he failed a drugs test in September 2002 and was subsequently banned for nine months.

But hey, at least he was free!

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho (R) poses

Jose Mourinho brought Maniche in on loan in January 2006 / ODD ANDERSEN/GettyImages

Jose Mourinho had helped Maniche morph into a star at Porto as the diminutive midfielder played a key role in Mourinho’s UEFA Cup and UEFA Champions League-winning outfits.

Thus, it was considered quite the coup when José’s Chelsea signed him on loan midway through their title-winning 2005/06 season.

However, Maniche’s brief stint in west London was disastrous. He struggled to break into an impressive midfield after being sent off 17 minutes into his Premier League debut.

The Portuguese international didn’t even make enough appearances to earn a league winners’ medal and Chelsea declined to purchase him permanently in the summer.

Chelsea v Fiorentina - Pre Season Friendly

Juan Cuadrado has gone on to enjoy a stellar career at Juventus / Catherine Ivill – AMA/GettyImages

Cuadrado’s time at Chelsea has proven to be the only blemish on what’s been a pretty remarkable career.

The Colombian was signed by the Blues as an archetypal South American winger, but he’s since evolved into a two-way full-back at Juventus and has won 11 major honours with the Bianconeri.

At Chelsea, though, Cuadrado looked a shell of the player he was at Fiorentina, and the one he’d eventually develop into at Juve.

He signed for £23m in 2015 (with Salah moving in the opposite direction) but ended up making just 15 appearances for the club and was nothing short of a major flop.

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