Chelsea have endured a mixed history when it comes to signing centre-forwards, with the arrival of Romelu Lukaku this season having so far failed to live up to expectations.
Lukaku has failed to find his form during a difficult debut season at Stamford Bridge and Thomas Tuchel has compared the struggles of the Belgium international to past disappointments when it comes to number nines.
Speaking after Lukaku recorded a Premier League record low of just seven touches against Crystal Palace last weekend, Tuchel referenced the ‘history of strikers struggling’ at Chelsea with marquee names such as Andriy Shevchenko and Fernando Torres among those who flopped.
Few have compared to the talents of Didier Drogba, who established himself as arguably the greatest footballer in Chelsea’s history after signing from Marseille in 2004.
Drogba spent eight seasons with the west Londoners and won 11 major honours, before returning for a short second spell as Chelsea looked to a familiar face to solve their striking issues.
In the decade since Drogba’s first departure in 2012 there has been no shortage of players who have arrived in a bid to fill his boots, and we’ve decided to rate every striker Chelsea have signed since the Ivorian’s exit.
Demba Ba completed a move for Chelsea from Newcastle in January 2012, activating a modest release clause in the forward’s contract after he scored 29 goals in 58 appearances for the Magpies.
Ba scored twice on his debut against Southampton, but struggled to command an automatic role in the side and made just 16 league starts across his 18 months at Stamford Bridge.
— Emirates FA Cup (@EmiratesFACup) April 1, 2021
He proved a valuable member of the squad, however, and enjoyed some memorable moments, including an outstanding winner against Manchester United in the FA Cup and a famous goal to derail Liverpool’s 2013/14 title bid at Anfield.
Ba made 51 appearances for the club in all competitions, scoring 14 goals.
Jose Mourinho reunited with Samuel Eto’o at Chelsea, securing the free transfer signing of the veteran forward following his venture to Russia with Anzhi Makhachkala.
Winner of the Champions League on three occasions with Barcelona and Inter Milan it was a shrewd signing despite the Cameroonian’s advancing years, with Mourinho questioning the Cameroonian’s real age in an infamous interview with French TV.
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) January 19, 2022
He scored 12 goals in all competitions during a single season at Stamford Bridge – at a respectable average of a goal every 181 minutes. – and his haul included a hat-trick against Manchester United, before departing at the end of the season to sign for Everton.
The best centre-forward Chelsea have had since Drogba, the aggressive hustle of Diego Costa made him the perfect focal point following his arrival from Atletico Madrid.
Costa scored 20 league goals as Chelsea won the Premier League in his first season in England, before matching that haul as a second league winners’ medal arrived in 2016/17.
The Spain international bullied Premier League defences and brought menace and goals to the Chelsea attack, but departed after just three seasons to return to Atletico after a fall-out with Antonio Conte.
He scored 52 goals in just 89 league appearances for Chelsea and his presence has arguably never been truly replaced.
Loic Remy had been the bright spark in a relegated Queens Park Rangers side, with Chelsea securing the signing of the French forward in the same summer as Costa’s arrival.
The presence of the aforementioned Spaniard meant Remy was reduced to a bit-part role, but he scored nine league goals during a solid first season in west London.
He failed to replicate that form the following campaign and fell further out of favour, however, enduring a disappointing goalless loan at Crystal Palace before signing for Las Palmas on a free transfer.
Radamel Falcao had been one of the best centre-forwards in Europe during a brilliant period at Porto and Atletico Madrid, scoring 142 goals in 178 appearances for that duo before signing for Monaco.
The Colombian signed for Manchester United on loan during the 2014/15 campaign, but managed just four league goals as he recovered from a serious knee injury.
Chelsea gambled on his services the following season and signed Falcao on a similar loan agreement, with the memories of the forward’s hat-trick for Atletico Madrid against Chelsea in the 2012 European Super Cup vivid in the memory banks.
However, injury issues plagued his time at Chelsea and he scored just once in 12 appearances before returning to Monaco and enjoying a goalscoring renaissance.
Alexandre Pato represented another gamble for Chelsea, with the once boy-wonder of Brazilian football having lost his way amid a succession of injuries.
Signed on loan from Corinthians in January 2016, he didn’t make his debut until April but marked it with a goal from the penalty spot in a 4-0 win over Aston Villa.
It proved a false dawn, however, as he made just one more appearance before returning to Brazil.
Michy Batshuayi arrived from Marseille in a £33m in 2016, but was barely given an opportunity and failed to live up to expectations after his arrival from Ligue 1.
The Belgian scored nine goals during his debut season, including the winner that clinched the Premier League title against West Brom, but made just one Premier League start for the campaign.
His career since then has been a wealth of loan moves, having mixed spells with the likes of Borussia Dortmund, Crystal Palace (twice), Valencia and Besiktas.
He has found form in Turkey with nine league goals so far this season and Chelsea will hope to secure a decent fee for his services this summer.
Alvaro Morata began brilliantly after becoming Chelsea’s record signing, the forward arriving from Real Madrid in a deal worth £60m.
Morata scored six goals in his first six Premier League appearances for the Blues, including a hat-trick against Stoke, and had reached double figures as Chelsea entered the festive period.
However, injury problems and a loss of confidence impacted Morata across the remainder of the campaign and he added just one more league goal to his haul.
He fell out of favour during his second season and returned to Spain with Atletico Madrid, later admitting he ‘didn’t quite feel loved or appreciated by the club or the fans’.
Chelsea raided rivals Arsenal to sign Olivier Giroud in January 2018, securing the experienced forward to add to their centre-forward options.
Giroud had been an under-appreciated presence for much of his time with the Gunners and continued to produce in an overlooked role at Chelsea, delivering whenever called upon and scoring regularly in Europe.
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) February 23, 2022
He netted 11 goals to finish as the competition’s leading scorer as Chelsea won the Europa League in 2018/19, before netting six goals from just eight games as the Blues on the Champions League in 2021.
Giroud signed for AC Milan last summer having scored 39 goals in 119 appearances for Chelsea, a large majority of which came from the bench.
Chelsea have made an unwanted habit of making prolific goalscorers looks ridiculously ordinary when adorning a blue shirt, with Gonzalo Higuaín another who seemed to leave his shooting boots back in Italy.
Higuaín had scored 157 goals in 295 appearances for Napoli and Juventus, including equalling the Serie A goalscoring record with a 36-goal league campaign in 2015/16.
The arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo at Juventus had seen his star status diminish, however, and he signed for Chelsea in loan in move that reunited the Argentine with former Napoli boss Maurizio Sarri.
He failed to find his feet in England, however, scoring just five goals with Chelsea refusing the option to extend the agreement.
Timo Werner’s blistering form in the Bundesliga saw Chelsea spend £47.5m to sign the forward from RB Leipzig, a deal which caused excitement amid a significant summer spend.
Werner had scored 32 goals for Leipzig the previous season, but struggled to replicate that form in a Chelsea shirt despite winning admirers for his work-ethic.
— Premier League (@premierleague) November 16, 2021
The 25-year-old ended his first season with a respectable 12 goals and 15 assists in addition to a Champions League winners’ medal, though his goal record was a disappointment given the expectations that greeted his arrival.
Romelu Lukaku returned to Chelsea in a £97.5m club record deal last summer, having signed for the west Londoners as a teenager before leaving in search of first-team football.
Lukaku had been viewed as an ideal replacement for Drogba, but chose to depart as he sought opportunity and has enjoyed prolific spells with Everton, Manchester United and Inter Milan.
Romelu Lukaku broke the record for the fewest touches in a Premier League game (7) for a player who has played the full 90 minutes since this data became available in 2003-04 😳 pic.twitter.com/lP0XHn8Ou2
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) February 20, 2022
Lukaku was named as Serie A’s Most Valuable Player after firing Inter to Serie A title success last season, scoring 64 goals in just 95 appearances across his two seasons in Italy.
Chelsea have struggled to get the best from the Belgian so far this season, however, with the 28-year-old – who has 10 goals in all competitions – having often proven an awkward fit for Thomas Tuchel’s side.