As literally everyone knows, Chelsea are currently banned from engaging in transfer fare (one window down, one to go), which, for a club that has made its name with flashy and frequent signings, is highly significant.
But perhaps it also gives us a chance to look back and reminisce over the extreme highs and unforgettable lows that the Blues have been through since the inaugural transfer window (at least as we know it today) back in 2002.
So, here is a ranking of every single one of Chelsea's summer transfer windows in the years since. #Chelski baybeee.
Key: *Best Buy* / *Worst Buy*
18. Summer 2002
Ins: Enrique de Lucas.
Outs: Roberto di Matteo, Sameule Dalla Bonna, Slavisa Jokanovic and Sam Parkin.
The penultimate pre-Roman Abramovich transfer window, and Jesus Christ can you tell. This is one big 'WHO?!?!?!' of a window.
Now, moving forward we will deploy categories like best and worst buy by bolding/italicising the names out and placing asterisks around them (*just to* *make it clear*), but there is nothing to go off here. Zilch.
We're talking Enrique de Lucas (que?) on a free. That's it. As for any kind of 'profit', a decent £1m was made off Dalla Bona, but for everyone else it was a case of shifting deadwood, be it to the free agency pile or the friendly resorts of Florida.
17. Summer 2017
Ins: Willy Caballero, *Antonio Rudiger*, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Alvaro Morata, Davide Zappacosta, *Danny Drinkwater*.
Outs: Asmir Begovic, Dominic Solanke, Juan Cuadrado, Christian Atsu, Bertrand Traore, Nathan Ake, John Terry, Nathaniel Chalobah, Nemanja Matic, Loic Remy.
The summer that almost drove Antonio Conte to a clinic, and foretold the end of his Blues career. Those aren't just misses, they're catastrophically expensive misses. Apart from Rudiger (who, yes, is the *best buy*), every other name in that in-tray is either out of the club or edging ever closer to the moon door, and at any price they can get.
That £35m Danny Drinkwater becomes almost impressively bad when you consider that Nathaniel Chalobah was sold for £5m and Ruben Loftus-Cheek went out on loan in the same window.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, Nathan Ake is worth £75m now, apparently. Great.
16. Summer 2015
Ins: Nathan, Asmir Begovic, Baba Rahman, Danilo Pantic, *Pedro*, Kenedy, *Papy Djilobodji*, Michael Hector, Marco Amelia.
Outs: Thorgan Hazard, Gael Kakuta, Petr Cech, Josh McEchran, Didier Drogba, Filipe Luis, Oriol Romeu.
So now we turn to the summer that broke Jose Mourinho. It is a damning, but maybe not surprising, indictment of the club that two of its three worst windows have come following Premier League victory.
Pedro has been a faithful servant, and a useful one, but the rest of those represent a dereliction of duty, with the baffling purchase of Papy Djilobodji, soon to be of couldn't-get-a-kick-at-Sunderland fame, the most derelict of the lot.
15. Summer 2019
Ins: *Mateo Kovacic*.
Outs: Eden Hazard, Kylian Hazard, Robert Green, Gary Cahill, Ola Aina, Eduardo, Jay Dasilva, Tomas Kalas, Victorien Angban, Marcin Bulka, Daishawn Redan, Todd Kane, Kyle Scott.
Yes, despite being under a transfer ban, summer 2019 is only the fourth-worst window on this list. That's because decent money has been made, deadwood has been shifted, and there's no Drinkwater, Baba Rahman, or Djilobodji to stuff things up.
And yes, I think it's a fitting tribute to Kovacic's ability that he is both the best and worst buy of the summer. He's that kind of player.
14. Summer 2009
Ins: Ross Turnbull, *Daniel Sturridge*, *Yuri Zhirkov*, Nemanja Matic.
Outs: Ben Sahar, Mineiro, Jimmy Smith, Frank Nouble, Morten Neilsen, Sergio Tajera, Claudio Pizarro, Andriy Shevchenko.
Yuri Zhirkov for £18m? A premature Nemanja Matic who the club would sell then play a heavy premium on in a few years time? Ross Turnbull?
Yeah, this was underwhelming. Sure, Sturridge was good, but not for long. Oh, and three years on from that club-record transfer, Shevchenko was quietly sent back to Ukraine on a free. Humiliating.
13. Summer 2008
Ins: *Jose Bosingwa*, *Deco*, Fabio Paim, Mineiro.
Outs: Momoudou Ceesay, Harry Worley, Hernan Crespo, Steve Sidwell, Claude Makelele, Khalid Boulahrouz, Tal Ben Haim, Anthony Grant, Shaun Wright-Phillips.
Another strange, strange window, and perhaps my choices for best and worst might be controversial. Bosingwa for £16.2m? Pretty bad, Champions League final performance notwithstanding.
£8m for Deco? Kind of fun, right? I mean, he wasn't great, but it was fun while it lasted, for sure. Right?
Losing Makelele was sad, though *spoiler* a certain Michael Essien had made him quasi-redundant by this point, while the exits of Hernan Crespo (free) and SWP for far less than what they were brought in for was, well, classic Chels.
Made a tidy £10m profit on Steve Sidwell and Tal Ben Haim, though. Somehow...
12. Summer 2007
Ins: Jacob Mellis, Danny Philliskirk, Claudio Pizarro, Tal Ben Haim, Steve Sidwell, *Florent Malouda*, *Fabio Borini*, Juliano Belletti.
Outs: Nuno Morais, Jonas Elmery, Yves Ma-Kalambay, Geremi, Arjen Robben, Glen Johnson, Lassana Diarra, Juan Sebastian Veron.
Malouda was a good signing, if he took a bit of time to get going, while Juliano Belletti was a bit less fun than Deco, but still kinda cool? Oh, and he scored an absolute screamer, so there's that.
The apparently astute free-agent pickups of Sidwell and Ben Haim were offset by the less-so capture of Fabio Borini - whose wages I'm convinced we're still paying for today. Robben and Diarra leaving didn't age well, neither did the purchase and penniless release of Veron. Oh well.
11. Summer 2010
Ins: Yossi Benayoun, Tomas Kalas, *Ramires*, *Matej Delac*.
Outs: Joe Cole, Michael Ballack, Juliano Belletti, Miroslav Stoch, Billy Knott.
Sad to see Ballack and Cole leave, but this is all about Ramires, one of Stamford Bridge's most underrated sons. That goal against Barcelona is maybe the single most beautiful thing I've seen in my life, and it was just the tip of the iceberg of a remarkable player.
As for Delac, I'm proud to say I've no idea who he is.
10. Summer 2013
Ins: Kasey Palmer, Andre Schurrle, Josimar Quintero, Marco van Ginkel, Isaiah Brown, Mark Schwarzer, Cristian Cuevas, Stipe Perica, *Willian*, Samuel Eto'o and *Christian Atsu*.
Outs: Nortei Nortey, Ismail Seremba, Paulo Ferreira, Florent Malouda, Ross Turnbull, Yossi Benayoun, Jeffrey Bruma, Jesse Starkey.
He may be a strangely controversial figure these days, but Willian was undoubtedly an astute signing, having been a crucial player since his arrival, while Eto'o did a decent job for an old man.
Let's not talk about Christian Atsu, or Marco van Ginkel for that matter.
9. Summer 2018
Ins: Ian Maatsen, Pierre Ekwah-Elimby, Thierno Ballo, Jorginho, *Robert Green*, *Kepa Arrizabalaga*.
Outs: Matej Delac, Mitchell Beeney, Wallace, Jonathan Panzo, Jordan Houghton, Jeremie Boga, Cole Dasilva, Thibaut Courtois, Tushaun Walters.
Tantrums notwithstanding, Kepa looks a fine purchase for the years to come. The much-maligned Jorginho is a controversial one, but no one can doubt his quality, and there's a case to be made that there was more than a whiff of Stockholm Syndrome in his relationship with Maurizio Sarri. Let him fly, Frank.
Robert Green was the worst signing, but in the best way possible.
8. Summer 2011
Ins: Thibaut Courtois, Oriol Romeu, *Juan Mata*, *Ulises Davila*, Raul Meireles.
Outs: Fabio Borini, Michael Mancienne, Nemanja Matic, Danny Philliskirk, Anton Rodgers, Jacop Sala, Gokhan Tore, Michael Woods, Jack Cork, Yuri Zhirkov, Slobodan Rajkovic.
Juan Mata had one of the best individual seasons I've seen a Chelsea player have this decade in 2012/13, and was an excellent ambassador for the club, with all that niceness - 'Class Act'.
The Belgian keeper who shall not be named was good as well, I guess.
As for Ulises Davila, after a short stint at Delhi Dynamos, he's now at Wellington Phoenix, whatever they are. Yeah. (ed's note: they're in Wellington, Wilf.)
7. Summer 2005
Ins: *Asier del Horno*, Lassana Diarra, Shaun Wright-Phillips, *Michael Essien*.
Outs: Mikael Forssell, Scott Parker, Mateja Kezman, Alexey Smertin, Jiri Jasoik, Tiago.
A whole load of meh and mmmkaay until you get to the god that is Michael Essien. Michael Essien might just be my favourite Chelsea player of all time, I won't lie. At his peak, there was nothing like him.
An utterly irrepressible player.
The same cannot be said for Asier del Horno. No sir-ee.
6. Summer 2016
Ins: Juan Castillo, *Michy Batshuayi*, Charlie Brown, *N'Golo Kante*, Marcin Bulka, Eduardo, Marcos Alonso, David Luiz.
Outs: Radamel Falcao, Alexandre Pato, Stipe Perica, Reece Mitchell, John Swift, Mohamed Salah, Papy Djilobodji, Marko Marin.
If Michael Essien is my favourite Blues player, you can bet your life N'Golo Kante is swiftly making his way up the ranks behind him.
Combine that with the then-smart purchases of Marcos Alonso and David Luiz, which have not aged well but won Antonio Conte the title, and you have a good-to-great window.
The next Didier Drogba could yet prove me wrong, but we've been saying that for three years.
5. Summer 2006
Ins: Michael Ballack, Salomon Kalou, *Andriy Shevchenko*, John Obi Mikel, Khalid Boulahrouz, *Ashley Cole*.
Outs: Eidur Gudjohnsen, Jiri Jasik, Carlton Cole, Damien Duff, Asier del Horno, Robert Huth, William Gallas.
Ignore Shevchenko and Boulahrouz and feast your eyes on the legends that remain.
4. Summer 2003
Ins: Marco Ambrosio, Glen Johnson, Geremi, Wayne Bridge, Damien Duff, *Joe Cole*, Juan Sebastian Veron, *Adrian Mutu*, Alexey Smertin, Hernan Crespo, Neil Sullivan, Claude Makelele.
Outs: Gianfranco Zola, Jody Morris, Graeme Le Saux, Ed de Goey.
Just like the last, you might have to block out the likes of Veron, Smertin and *sniff* Mutu. But that's fine, when you're taking in the fine sights of Cole, Duff, Crespo (still back this, don't @ me) and Make-f**king-lele.
What I'd do to be involved the hug above. What I'd do...
3. Summer 2012
Ins: Lamisha Musonda, Charly Musonda, Tika Musonda, Andreas Christensen, *Marko Marin*, *Eden Hazard*, Thorgan Hazard, Oscar, Cesar Azpilicueta, Victor Moses.
Outs: Didier Drogba, Jose Bosingwa, Salomon Kalou, Marko Mitrovic, Rhys Taylor, Raul Meireles.
Eden may be gone, but he'll never be forgotten, and for £30m and change he may just be the best bit of high-profile business done by anyone this decade. Add Hazard to Oscar, an underrated player who the Blues made a healthy profit on, the best defender we've had this decade and Victor the Conte fanboy, and you have a Hall of Fame window.
Let's just leave the German Messi out of this, shall we?
2. Summer 2014
Ins: *Cesc Fabregas*, Miro Muheim, Diego Costa, *Filipe Luis*, Didier Drogba, Hubert Adamczyk, Loic Remy.
Outs: David Luiz, Jhon Pirez, Sam Hutchinson, Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard, Jordan Beeney, Chike Kandi, Demba Ba, Patrick van Aanholt, Romelu Lukaku, George Saville, Samuel Eto'o, Daniel Pappoe, George Cole.
Perhaps picking this window over the last is a particularly Chelsea thing to do, and part of the reason the club finds itself where it is now - unfettered short-termism. But when it works, by God does it work.
Save for maybe Robin van Persie, I can think of fewer transfers this decade that have had such instant title ramifications as those of Fabregas and Costa. A contrast in styles, they were a complete joy to watch in tandem, that goal against Arsenal being the perfect distillation of both their qualities. Oh, and that profit on David Luiz? *Kisses fingers like a continental chef*
1. Summer 2004
Ins: Paulo Ferreira, *Petr Cech*, Arjen Robben, *Mateja Kezman*, Didier Drogba, Tiago, Ricardo Carvalho, Nuno Morias, Jiri Jarosik.
Outs: Winston Bogarde, Juan Sebastian Veron, Marcel Desailly, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Mikael Forssell, Mario Melchiot, Emanuel Petit, Jasper Gronkjaer, Carlton Cole, Hernan Crespo, Boudweijn Zenden, Marco Ambrosio, Neil Sullivan.
The most famous transfer haul in Premier League history? Probably. The most successful? Surely. Few greater spines have ever been crafted in three years, let alone one summer.
Picking between Drogba and Cech as the best signing was like picking a parental favourite, but I went with Petr on account of the value and longevity. Don't sleep on Carvalho, either, who *whisper it* may have just been the best centre-back at the club during his six-year stay.
As for Robben, his tenure may have been short and fraught, but it was electric. What a window. What a club.
Source : 90min