The Best Players Chelsea Shouldn't Have Sold
Eden Hazard—Real Madrid
With Chelsea's record sale in the summer of 2019, it seemed like Real Madrid were hanging over Eden Hazard for a lifetime before finally landing their man. What more can be said about Eden Hazard that hasn't been said before? How can a player win two Premier Leagues, two Europa Leagues, a League Cup and an FA Cup and still feel like they have to get out somewhere else to really achieve their potential?
For so long, Chelsea were really as close as you can be to being a one-man team. Hazard's natural low centre of gravity gifted him with the pace and agility to pull off some of the most outrageous skills, dancing around defenders and scoring some of the most spectacular goals the world had ever seen.
His last season in a Chelsea shirt was arguably his best ever. Carrying what looked like a fairly mediocre side forward, Hazard scored twenty-one goals and assisted seventeen across all competitions and became one of the frontline contenders for the PFA Player of the Year award. Had he been in a better side, he would have won it for sure.
Without the talisman and leader on the pitch, Chelsea are going to look like a lost side without this Ballon D'or-worthy, magical individual in their side.
Mohammed Salah was certainly something of an unknown entity when Chelsea picked him up from Basel for a fairly hefty eleven million pounds in January of 2014. Known for his pace down the flanks, Salah never really got his career off the ground at Chelsea. Besides a goal against Arsenal in a 6-0 thumping at Stamford Bridge, and featuring in the infamous 'Gerrard slip' matchup at Anfield against his future employers, Salah was never really offered a look in by Jose Mourinho.
Two successful loan spells with Fiorentina and Roma eventually led to the club selling Salah to the Romans for twelve and a half million in 2016, turning a small profit on the Egyptian. Twenty goals in just over forty appearances in the 2016/17 season led to Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool paying thirty million pounds for the Egyptian's services.
A Champions League Final in 2018, a Champions League win in 2019 and over seventy goals in just over a hundred appearances speaks volumes about the success Liverpool and Salah have enjoyed. Forty-four goals in his first season alone propelled the Egyptian to the headlines every week, made him a national hero around the world and now put his name alongside the likes of Messi and Ronaldo every week.
Since Salah's return to England, Chelsea have never finished above Liverpool and, if we're being honest, don't look set to anytime soon.
Kevin De Bruyne—Manchester City
Perhaps another example of the brashness surrounding some of Jose Mourinho's decisions and transfers whilst at Chelsea, Kevin De Bruyne is the poster boy of Chelsea regrets. Signed from Genk in 2012 for a rumoured seven million pounds, De Bruyne's two-year stay in London coincided with what was perhaps the club's best ever time for attacking midfielders. At the time of his arrival, the club still had the likes of Eden Hazard, Willian, Oscar and even Juan Mata. It was clear he would remain right down the pecking order.
After a loan spell that became permanent in 2014 with Wolfsburg, it quickly became clear that Chelsea had let a seriously talented individual go. His performances in Germany, on the continent and on an international level led to Manchester City paying a then-club-record fee of fifty-five million pounds to bring the Belgian to the Etihad.
Since then, De Bruyne has established himself as one of the most acclaimed and accomplished players anywhere in the world. His creativity, vision and eye for goal have consistently landed him on the shortlist for the Ballon D'or, and his trophy cabinet at Manchester City now consists of three League Cups, one FA Cup and two record-breaking Premier League titles.
His creativity and ingenuity in the middle of the park is something Chelsea are badly missing at the moment. It doesn't need to be said that Kevin De Bruyne would walk straight into this current Chelsea team.
A Creative Spark
Chelsea might have bagged a cool sixty million pounds from the sale of Oscar to Shanghai in January 2017, but they also lost one of the most established and creative assets in their entire side. Signed from Brazilian club Internacional in the same window as the likes of Eden Hazard in 2012, Oscar was part of a promising crop of youngsters coming into Stamford Bridge.
A favourite under Jose Mourinho as he ousted competition from the likes of Juan Mata, Oscar became known for his skill on the ball, his technical ability and his overall eye for goal, making over two hundred appearances for the club during his time in London.
Oscar's career came to a sudden, shocking stop when he traded hyper-competitive football for the cash-ridden leagues of China. The big money moves to the Far East were normally only associated with ageing, has-beens in the past; however, here was a player entering his prime seemingly throwing it away.
Oscar won a Premier League, a League Cup and a Europa League during his time with the Blues, but think about how much more he could have achieved had he not moved to China.
It's clear that Chelsea are still missing that creative spark in the middle of the park, someone who can chip in with a few goals and help create problems for opposing defences.
Diego Costa—Atletico Madrid
Diego Costa is a footballer that never fails to make the headlines. His fierce, combative attitude makes him a frighteningly clinical player on his day, whilst simultaneously being his biggest weakness as he flies off the handle. Whilst Costa is faster than some give him credit for, his real asset lies in his strength. Whether it be outmuscling defenders and running onto a loose ball, or towering up and showing his skill in the air, Costa has been one of the continent's best strikers for years now.
Costa was signed by Chelsea from Atletico Madrid in the summer of 2014, and he set off like a firework. His fierce determination would come to represent the spirit of Mourinho and his Chelsea side, with Costa netting twenty goals across the league campaign as Stamford Bridge welcomed home one of its most convincing title wins.
Costa would once again be the league's top scorer under Antonio Conte in 2016/17, firing Chelsea to another league title under the Italian. This made the decision to suddenly dump the striker out of the team the following season all the more baffling.
In total during his time at Chelsea, Costa would pick up two league titles, a league cup and reach an FA Cup final, scoring in that game as Chelsea lost 2-1 to Arsenal. His controversies are obvious, but only as obvious as his goalscoring record that marked Chelsea out as title contenders, rather than competitors for the top four as they are now.