Koulibaly’s predecessors: Ranking 11 stars who left Serie A for Chelsea

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On the back of a sudden flash, Kalidou Koulibaly landed in west London to complete his move to Chelsea, left a heartbroken fan base in Napoli. The Senegalese has been one of the best defenders in Europe in recent years but he won’t be the first to leave the Italian peninsula to join the Blues. In fact, Chelsea’s history is full of Serie A stars who made the jump to Stamford Bridge after making their mark Kalkiowith some of them achieving great success in the Premier League while others ruining the day they left Italy.

Whilst Gianfranco Zola may be the most famous of these, we focus only on the players who have joined Chelsea from Italy since the turn of the millennium and rank them based on the success they achieved during their time at Cobham.

11- Adrian Mutu

With a few flops on the list, Adrian Mutu certainly wasn’t the worst on the pitch. The Romanian was one of the first signings of the Roman Abramovich era, joining from Parma in 2003.

The enigmatic talent had a decent first season in the Premier League under the tutelage of Claudio Ranieri but ends up bottom of the table due to the circumstances surrounding his departure.

Banned from football due to a positive cocaine test, Mutu subsequently left Chelsea on a sour note before continuing his Serie A experience at Juventus.

10- Andriy Shevchenko

Despite having Didier Drogba in their ranks, the English giants opted to splash the cash on Abramovich’s good friend Andriy Shevchenko.

Nonetheless, the Milan legend was already heading for the slump and spectacularly failed to justify his asking price of 50million (which was an enormous sum during the day).

The Ukrainian bomber eventually returned for a second stint at the San Siro two years after his retirement, but his career was beyond repair by that point.

9-Juan Cuadrado

During José Mourinho’s second spell at Chelsea, several stars came and went without leaving a trace, including Juan Cuadrado.

The Colombian signed for the Londoners in February 2015 after an impressive stint at Fiorentina, only to leave the bridge a few months later when Juventus offered him a chance to play in Italy again.

8- Gonzalo Higuain

The 2018/19 season was certainly a bizarre one for Gonzalo Higuain. It all started with the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo, who pushed him to Milan. But its time with the Rossoneri was cheerless, and when Maurizio Sarri called, he was happy to jump off the ship in the middle of the election campaign.

However, the Argentine scored just five times in 18 games at Chelsea before returning to Chelsea Bianconeri after its loan period expires.

7- Romelu Lukaku

Well, this one hasn’t fully unfolded yet as Romelu Lukaku remains a Chelsea player despite recently returning to Inter on loan.

Despite this, his previous season was abysmal as Thomas Tuchel benched him after getting used to his tactical system and the Belgian made matters worse by publicly announcing how sad he is at Chelsea and making a comeback please go and get me to them Nerazzurri.

But to his credit, the maneuver ultimately worked.

Lukaku and Pogba: Returning Heroes or Defeated Conquerors?

6-Hernan Crespo

As the names on the list attest, Chelsea have a knack for signing Serie A forwards. But unfortunately for them, it rarely works out for the best.

For his part, Hernan Crespo spent two seasons with the EPL giants, scoring 25 goals in 72 games. Perhaps not a disastrous record, but a far cry from the stats he posted during his memorable stints in Parma and Lazio.

Inevitably, the Argentine packed his bags and returned to the Italian peninsula, similar to the previously mentioned cases.

5- Davide Zappacosta

Although he wasn’t exactly a star at the time, Davide Zappacosta joined Chelsea from Turin in 2017 at the request of his compatriot Antonio Conte.

The versatile full-back added two goals and four assists in 55 games for the Blues before naturally returning to his home country two years later.

While these aren’t the most impressive stats, they’re enough to warrant him a top five spot.

4- Emerson Palmieri

After some solid performances for Roma, Conte Emerson identified Palmieri as the right profile to bolster the left flank in January 2018.

Despite the manager’s departure this summer, the Italian-Brazilian managed to win the trust of Conte’s successor Maurizio Sarri by temporarily ushering in Marcos Alonso for a regular role.

However, the Euro 2020 winner has been out since the arrival of Ben Chilwell and spent the previous season on loan at Lyon.

3- Marcos Alonso

Following the Spaniard’s signing from Fiorentina in 2016, few Chelsea fans would have expected Marcos Alonso to cement himself as an integral part of the club, particularly after his memorable England spells at Bolton and Sunderland earlier in his career.

Still, the 31-year-old has made 211 competitive appearances for the club so far, scoring 29 goals and providing 23 assists for his team-mates.

Not a bad record for a full-back.

2- Jorginho

When Sarri took charge at Cobham in 2018, a reunion with his Napoli pupil was at the top of his wish list.

So, part of the club’s supporters didn’t like Jorginho just because he was linked to the chain-smoking manager.

Curiously, the midfielder’s best run at Chelsea came after the departure of his old mentor who, under the stewardship of Frank Lampard and then Tuchel, cemented himself as one of the best entrenched playmakers in the world.

That register played a significant role in the club’s Champions League triumph in 2021, eventually finishing on the Ballon d’Or podium (paralleled thanks to his exploits at Euro 2020).

1-Antonio Ruediger

Whilst he was certainly a solid young defender during his time at Roma, Antonio Rudiger was slowly but surely emerging as one of Chelsea’s finest centre-backs.

Much like Jorginho, the German was an essential presence in Tuchel’s line-up that propelled Chelsea to European glory in 2021.

The former Stuttgart native recently joined Real Madrid as a free agent but Chelsea fans will always regard him as one of their best Serie A imports.

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