From legendary Didier Drogba to Michael Essien and Mikel Obi – English Premier League giants Chelsea are known to always have African players in their squad. The Blues are one of the few teams in Europe that have always had an African player in their starting XI.
Some of these players went on to become legends in the club while some struggled to meet up with expectations. However, here are the top 8 African players signed by Chelsea since 2000.
1. Didier Drogba
With over 100 Premier League goals for Chelsea and his performance against Bayern Munich in the 2012 Champions League final, Drogba is a genuine Chelsea legend. Not to mention that he became the first player to ever score in three consecutive League Cup finals, scoring in the 2007, 2009, 2010, and 2012 FA Cup finals.
2. Michael Essien
There is a reason why Mourinho talks about the father-son bond he shared with Ghanaian football legend Michael Essien who was the driving force behind some of Chelsea’s most memorable performances. Knee problems prevented him from having a significant influence when Mourinho arrived, but his more than 250 appearances in west London have made him a fan favorite for good reasons.
3. John Obi Mikel
Mikel was surprisingly well-liked at Stamford Bridge despite his unattractive playing style and a goal-scoring total of just six goals in over 370 games. But that tells you everything you need to know about how well the Nigerian filled Claude Makelele’s shoes, and on the route to Munich in 2012, he put up some remarkable performances.
4. Salomon Kalou
The Ivorian was content to wait in line behind players like Didier Drogba and Fernando Torres, but he always gave it his all when given the opportunity. The fact that Kalou scored 60 goals in more than 200 games is very remarkable, and he consistently converted penalties in key shootouts that helped him win every title that was up for grabs.
Although Geremi was by no means the most glamorous player, his teammates loved him for routinely scoring at least a 7/10 and playing in every position from right-back to the left flank. The ex-Real Madrid player was a vital member of Mourinho’s top squad from 2004 to 2006, helping them to win two English Premier League titles, two League Cups, and one FA Cup.
6. Victor Moses
Moses’ Chelsea career appeared to be over following his debut season because despite scoring 10 goals, he was sent on unsuccessful loan stints with West Ham United, Liverpool, and Stoke City. Conte’s game-changing choice to play him as a right-wing back helped the Nigerian to rekindle his football career.
7. Samuel Eto’o
Eto’o was one of Mourinho’s most successful bets, scoring 12 goals in 35 games as the ‘Special One’ returned to the Premier League. He scored in critical matches against Arsenal and Tottenham in addition to scoring three goals in a 3-1 victory over Manchester United.
8. Demba Ba
Rafael Benitez made a wise choice in signing Ba, who scored important goals in the FA Cup against Manchester City and United during his first six months. In 2013–14, the Senegalese striker still managed to score an important goal at Anfield and a thrilling victory against Paris Saint-Germain, although his departure from Stamford Bridge was likely.