Havertz next? – Rating the impact of the players to swap Chelsea for Arsenal

Kai Havertz is closing in on a transfer across the capital after Arsenal agreed a deal to sign the forward from Chelsea.

Despite the rivalry between the two London clubs, it is a path well-trodden in the Premier League era with a number of notable names having directly departed Chelsea for Arsenal.

Not all have been a roaring success however, and we’ve decided to look back at the players to have swapped the blue of Chelsea for the red of Arsenal.

Rating the impact of the players to swap Chelsea for Arsenal in the Premier League era.

William Gallas

William Gallas arrived at Arsenal in a high-profile swap deal that saw Ashley Cole move to Chelsea in the opposite direction, with the Blues having parted with £5m and the French centre-back to sign Cole after a controversial and protracted chase.

Gallas had spent five seasons at Chelsea and formed part of the club’s back-to-back title-winning teams under Jose Mourinho, including the 2004/05 season in which the Blues conceded a record low of just 15 goals in the Premier League. The Frenchman was often used out of position at left-back however, leading to Gallas pushing for an exit and crossing the capital divide in 2006.

He was bizarrely handed the number ten shirt vacated by the retiring Dennis Bergkamp upon his arrival at the Emirates, but impressed during his debut season and was named club captain in August 2007.

His time with the club was a mix of fine performances and controversies however, including a public fall-out with team-mate Samir Nasri and criticism of Arsenal’s inexperienced side in the media. He was stripped of the captaincy following those latter comments, having been at the centre of a meltdown moment during his first season with the armband.

Gallas sat on the turf and refused to leave in anger and frustration after a draw at Birmingham, as Arsenal squandered a lead to damage the club’s title hopes. He made 142 appearances for the club before departing to sign for fierce rivals Tottenham on a free transfer – becoming the first man to have played for Chelsea, Arsenal and Spurs.

Rating: 5/10

Lassana Diarra

Lassana Diarra signed for Chelsea as a teenager with hopes high that the French midfielder could be moulded into Claude Makelele’s heir. He struggled to establish himself however, and made just 13 league appearances before being sold to Arsenal as his contract ran down.

Diarra fared little better across the capital and spent only five months at the Emirates, in which he featured just seven times in the Premier League. Portsmouth signed the midfielder in a £5.5m deal and his Arsenal exit was perhaps premature as he began to fulfil his potential on the south coast, where he won the 2007/08 FA Cup and earned an £18m move to Real Madrid.

Diarra – who won 34 caps for France at international – spent three-and-a-half seasons with the Spanish side before later spells at clubs including Anzhi Makhachkala, Lokomotiv Moscow and Marseille.

Rating: 2/10

Yossi Benayoun

Yossi Benayoun represented four different London clubs during a long Premier League career, including both Chelsea and Arsenal.

The Israel international had signed for Chelsea after successful spells at West Ham and Liverpool, but struggled to nail down a regular first-team place at Stamford Bridge. He was allowed to leave on loan for Arsenal late in the 2011 summer transfer window.

Opportunities were initially limited for Benayoun in north London, but he starred during a 5-2 win over Tottenham to earn a run in the side across the run-in. The midfielder provided a welcome contribution to the club’s Champions League qualification with six goals in 25 appearances across all competitions.

Rating: 5/10

Petr Cech

Petr Cech crossed the capital with a reputation as one of the greatest goalkeepers of the Premier League era.

Cech had signed for Chelsea from Rennes as the Roman Abramovich era was beginning to accelerate and starred during the most successful period in the club’s history.

The Czech Republic international won 13 major honours including four Premier League titles, three FA Cups and the Champions League at Chelsea, while winning the Premier League’s Golden Glove on three occasions and forming part of the team that conceded a record low of 15 goals in 2004/05.

Cech was allowed to leave following Thibaut Courtois’ emergence at Chelsea and won a fourth Premier League Golden Glove during his debut season at Arsenal. He added another FA Cup winners’ medal in 2016/17 and made 139 appearances across four seasons for the Gunners before retirement.

Though a solid signing, he failed to produce the same level of performance that had made Cech one of the world’s best at Chelsea. He holds the Premier League record for clean sheets with 202.

Rating: 7/10

David Luiz

David Luiz signed for Arsenal from Chelsea as a surprise replacement for Laurent Koscielny, with the former captain having gone on strike to engineer a return to France.

Luiz arrived in an £8m deal with a wealth of experience from two spells at Chelsea, which saw the Brazilian centre-back delight and frustrate at Stamford Bridge.

The defender won two FA Cups, two Europa Leagues and the Champions League at Chelsea, while he was a crucial presence in the club’s 2016/17 title-winning season under Antonio Conte to earn inclusion in the PFA Team of the Year.

Inconsistent but occasionally spectacular, his time with Arsenal was rather more the former than the latter. He beat former side Chelsea to win the FA Cup in his debut campaign, though also set an unwanted record for the most penalties conceded by a single player (5) in a single Premier League season.

He departed for Flamengo on a free transfer after his contract was not renewed in 2020.

Rating: 3/10


Arsenal’s capture of Willian from Chelsea was widely viewed as a coup as the Gunners secured the signing of the winger on a free transfer in 2020.

The Brazilian had twice been named as Chelsea’s Players’ Player of the Year during a successful spell at Stamford Bridge, one which saw the Brazilian make 339 appearances and win two Premier League titles. His final season at Chelsea proved to be his best goalscoring campaign with nine in the Premier League and he marked his Arsenal debut with two assists in a 3-0 win at Fulham.

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However, Willian struggled to build on that performance and looked a shadow of his Chelsea best during a disappointing campaign at the Emirates. He scored just once in the Premier League and departed for Corinthians on a free transfer after just one season, having called his time at Arsenal ‘the worst time that he had lived as a professional’.

The 34-year-old returned to English football at Fulham last season and impressed in Marco Silva’s side.

Rating: 2/10


Jorginho completed a shock move from Chelsea to Arsenal last January, with the midfielder – a regular in the Chelsea side – recruited to aid Arsenal’s push for the Premier League title.

Jorginho had made 213 appearances for Chelsea and was integral to the club’s Champions League success in 2020/21, a season which also saw the Italian win the European Championship, UEFA’s Men’s Player of the Year award and place third in the Ballon d’Or vote.

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The 31-year-old has done okay since swapping clubs, but failed to provide the lift hoped and was unable to help Arsenal to the title as the Gunners faltered during the run-in. His long-term position is unclear, with Mikel Arteta planning a rebuild of his midfield this summer.

Rating: 5/10

Read – Iconic Duos: Arsenal’s monstrous midfield partnership, Petit and Vieira

Read Also – Noughties Nines: Nicolas Anelka – Sullen and spectacular

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