As one of the world’s elite clubs, Chelsea are privileged to be able to regularly sign top talent. However, there are times when they may lose out. The following are some well-known players that the Blues nearly signed throughout recent years.
1. Steven Gerrard
It was the summer of 2005. Gerrard had just captained Liverpool to the Champions League title. Gerrard handed in his transfer request to the Anfield giants and a Chelsea move looked certain to go through. It was, however, eventually prevented by Gerrard’s father, Paul Gerrard. Paul reminded his son that he and his entire family would become outcasts in their home city of Merseyside if the move to Chelsea went through.
In his autobiography, Gerrard described the day he handed in his transfer request as being the most emotional day in his life. Gerrard has since retired from professional football and is regarded as being arguably the greatest Liverpool football of all-time. He holds a special place in the heart of most Liverpool fans. Had the move gone through, his career would have likely turned out very differently and he probably would have won a Premier League title, which he had never won with the Reds. Ironically, now that Gerrard has retired, Liverpool look well-placed to potentially secure their first title in nearly 30 years, standing at odds of 7/2 in the football betting with just a handful of games remaining.
Following Liverpool’s 2005 Champions League success, he only won two major trophies afterwards, which came in the form of the FA Cup during the 2005-06 season and the League Cup during the 2011-12 season.
2. Mehdi Benatia
Benatia had a trial with Chelsea during Jose Mourinho’s first spell with the club and was offered a three year deal with the club. However, he chose not to join the Stamford Bridge club as he wanted to remain with Marseille. After leaving Marseille eventually in 2008, the French born Morocco international went on to play for Clermont, Udinese, Roma, Bayern Munich, Juventus and now plies his trade for Al-Duhail.
With Munich, Benatia won two Bundesliga titles and one DFB-Pokal. While with Juve, he won two Serie A titles as well as two Copa Italia’s. He was part of the 2013/14 Serie A team of the year and represented Morocco at three Africa Cup of Nations tournaments as well as the 2018 World Cup.
Ronaldinho reportedly was close to joining the Blues during the summer of 2007 when he was widely regarded as being one of the world’s best players. Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich reportedly met with Ronaldinho’s agent and brother Roberto de Assis Moreira and offered him a deal which would have made him the highest paid footballer in Europe.
The Russian billionaire was also reportedly willing to match the £85 million clause which was inserted into Ronaldinho’s contract which he signed with Barcelona in 2005. Had the deal gone ahead, he would have become the most expensive footballer in the world at the time. Ronaldinho was arguably one of the best footballers of the decade 2000-10 and if he arrived at Stamford Bridge, there is no doubting that a lot of publicity and hype would have been generated. It would have been akin to David Beckham’s move from Manchester United to Real Madrid during the summer of 2003.
The deal, however, ended up not going ahead. Many fans of Chelsea may reflect and be glad that it did not. Make no mistake, Ronaldinho was beyond world-class during his time with Barcelona. However, he struggled to emulate his heroics after leaving the Blaugrana in 2008. After leaving the La Liga giants he went on to have spells with AC Milan, Flamengo, Atletico Mineiro, Queretaro and Fluminense, all of which yielded moderate success. This was best exemplified by the fact that he was left out of the Brazilian squads which played at the 2010 and 2014 World Cups.
4. David Silva
In 2010, after making a name for himself at Valencia and winning the World Cup with Spain, Silva became linked with a lot of clubs, one of which was Chelsea. He is reported to have seriously considered a move to the Stamford Bridge giants. As reported by Bleacher Report, Silva even spoke highly of Blues players, saying: “In players like John Terry, Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba, they have players who would get into any team in the world and it would be a pleasure to play with them. There is no doubt in my mind that Chelsea would be a great club to play for and a club where I could fulfil my ambition of league titles and the European Cup.”
A move to the West of London subsequently did not happen and Silva instead joined Manchester City during the summer of 2010. He has since managed to establish himself as a legend at the Etihad Stadium and has been a key part of the club’s revolution as they transformed themselves from a modest English outfit into one of the world’s best. At 33-years-old, Silva remains a world-class player. He has helped City to win three Premier League titles, one FA Cup and four League Cups.
During the summer of 2012, Neymar was strongly linked with a move to England with Chelsea being his most likely destination. Neymar was then on the books of Santos in his native Brazil. Santos President Luis Alvaro de Oliveira Ribeiro was reportedly convinced that the player would be sold to the West London giants.
At the time, Neymar was regarded as one of the best young players in world football and it would have been a blockbuster if it went through. In the end, it did not go through, and Neymar ended up staying put at Barcelona for another season before he joined Barcelona the following summer.
There is no doubting that Neymar is a talented footballer who could have added value at Stamford Bridge. However, Blues fans will be divided over this one and what could have happened had a deal went through. Neymar has a reputation for being a divisive and polarizing figure. His loyalty to clubs can also be questioned as his departure from Barcelona to join Paris-Saint Germain during the summer of 2017 did not happen on the best of terms. He has now even been linked with a move away from the French giants.