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Five Chelsea attackers who never recovered from slow starts to life at the Bridge

Chelsea’s summer spending was one of the stories of the summer with their wealth of new additions headlined by the captures of Germany internationals Kai Havertz and Timo Werner.

Both players arrived with burgeoning reputations following their impressive exploits in the Bundesliga, but it has been a difficult adaptation for the pair so far with £72m club-record arrival Havertz attracting criticism following a series of underwhelming displays to date.


Werner has fared somewhat better – scoring nine goals in all competitions – but a recent 12-game barren run saw several sitters missed and emphasised his failure to replicate his Bundesliga form, the drought only ended after scoring against fourth-tier Morecambe in the FA Cup last weekend.

Premier League history has seen many players make stuttering starts before coming good, but Chelsea are one club who have seen several stars fail to adapt entirely and will be hoping history is not about to repeat itself.

Here are five Chelsea attackers who failed to recover from slow starts at Stamford Bridge:

Chris Sutton

Chris Sutton had established himself as one of the Premier League’s most reliable forwards during the nineties, forming an iconic partnership with Alan Shearer at Blackburn that helped deliver the league title to Ewood Park during the 1994/95 campaign.

Sutton had scored 47 goals in 130 league appearances for Rovers and won the Premier League’s Golden Boot during the 1997/98 season, though departed after five successful seasons following Blackburn’s relegation and a big-money bid from Chelsea.

Gianluca Vialli invested a notable £10m on the 26-year-old but it was a move that failed to work out, Sutton managing just one league goal – in a 5-0 victory over Manchester United – in 28 appearances.

The forward’s struggles saw him not even named on the bench as Chelsea reached the FA Cup final that season, with Sutton admitting he ‘lost confidence’ following several missed chances and a difficult start at Stamford Bridge.

After just one season, he was sold to Celtic at a £4m loss.

Mateja Kezman

Signing forwards from the Eredivisie can often be a roll of the dice for Premier League sides, the likes of Ruud van Nistelrooy and Luis Suarez proving huge hits, whilst both Afonso Alves and Vincent Janssen struggled despite prolific periods in the Netherlands.

Mateja Kezman most certainly fits into that latter category of misses, despite the fanfare that greeted the arrival of a Serbia international who had plundered 105 goals in just 122 league appearances for PSV Eindhoven.

Kezman’s brilliant partnership with Arjen Robben saw the duo nicknamed ‘Batman and Robben’ in Eindhoven, and both players left to join a billionaire-backed Chelsea during the 2004 summer transfer window.

Whilst a young Robben showed flashes of the talent that would make him one of the world’s best in future years, Kezman struggled amid competition for a first-team place from the likes of Didier Drogba and Eidur Gudjohnsen.

Burdened by the number nine shirt he inherited from Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Kezman started his career with a barren run, one that lasted more than two months whilst his first Premier League goal did not arrive until December.

He finished that debut season with just four league goals and was allowed to depart at the season’s end for Atletico Madrid, the prolific exploits of his PSV heyday never quite repeated.

Shaun Wright-Phillips

Shaun Wright-Phillips had established himself as a cult hero at Manchester City after coming through the club’s academy system, the infectious energy and pace that the diminutive winger brought to the side making him a firm fans’ favourite.

City were far from the modern force they have become pre-takeover and despite finishing in the Premier League’s top half in 2004/05, the club accepted a £21m bid from newly-crowned champions Chelsea for a player who had just scored 10 league goals to be named in the PFA Team of the Year.

Wright-Phillips headed to the capital to join a star-studded squad under the guidance of Jose Mourinho, but his debut season – despite winning the Premier League title – was one of huge personal disappointment as 39 goalless appearances saw him miss out on selection for England’s 2006 World Cup squad.

His fortunes improved somewhat and he started the club’s 2007 FA Cup final victory, though the departure of Mourinho saw his opportunities again limited under both Avram Grant and Luiz Felipe Scolari.

The winger spent three seasons with Chelsea but never established himself as a regular starter, making just 43 league starts for the west London side before a return to Manchester City.

Andriy Shevchenko

There were few who predicted that Andriy Shevchenko would fail at Chelsea, the arrival of the AC Milan star sparking fears of Premier League domination for the west London side who had just claimed back-to-back league titles under Jose Mourinho.

This, after all, was the highest-scoring player in European Cup history at the time of his arrival and the winner of the Ballon d’Or just two years earlier, the signings of Shevchenko and Michael Ballack adding to an already formidable squad as Chelsea chased continental success.

What had looked like the missing piece for owner Roman Abramovich soon became an ill-fitting part of Chelsea’s Champions League jigsaw, the presence of Didier Drogba and Mourinho’s preference for a lone forward seeing the marquee arrival somewhat awkwardly shoehorned into the side.

A goal against Liverpool in the Community Shield proved a false dawn as Shevchenko failed to find his feet, his struggles only enhanced by the fine form of fellow forward Drogba.

He finished his debut season with 14 goals in all competitions but it was far from the return envisaged upon his £30m British transfer-record arrival, whilst he later became a pawn in the game of Abramovich and Mourinho amid growing tensions between the pair.

The most feared forward in European football during a glittering career at AC Milan, Shevchenko’s spell in the Premier League brought just nine league goals over two seasons before departing with his reputation tainted.

Fernando Torres

Another record-breaking buy and another unmitigated disappointment, Fernando Torres was the latest prize to have caught Abramovich’s eye during the 2011 January transfer window.

Torres has been a sensation since arriving into the Premier League with Liverpool three-and-a-half years earlier, firing home 81 goals in just 142 appearances in all competitions for the Merseyside outfit.

Liverpool’s inability to compete for major prizes saw the head of their Spanish star turn, however, Torres rocking the club with a mid-season transfer request that would lead to a British record £50m move to Stamford Bridge.

Torres had regularly tormented Chelsea during his time at Liverpool but the nightmare proposition their defence had faced was rarely seen after swapping Anfield for the capital, the forward’s career beginning awfully with a 903-minute goal drought before opening his account against West Ham.

Just one goal in 18 appearances over his first half-season was concerning, and it was a record that failed to significantly improve as Torres looked a shadow of his former self in Chelsea colours.

His three-and-a-half seasons brought just 20 goals in 110 league appearances for the Blues, and whilst success was found with Champions League and FA Cup winners’ medals, the finest form of the player’s career unquestionably came at Liverpool.

Read – Ranking the ten best Premier League players of the 90’s

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