Coming off a dramatic and glorious Champions League and FA Cup double, Roberto Di Matteo and Chelsea went on to make some truly historic additions to the squad in the summer of 2012, some that remain vital five years later.
Sure, there were a few misses amongst the hit signings as well as the immediate confusion surrounding the axing of Di Matteo in November, but Chelsea’s business in the summer transfer market of 2012 had an eye to the future, a future which is very much the present in mid-2017.
Here we rank those summer deals from five years ago from the good to the bad, and for one, the unknown.
Eden Hazard – joined for £32 million from Lille on July 1, 2012
Four PFA Team of the Year inclusions, three Chelsea Player of the Year awards, two English Premier League titles and the Premier League’s Player of the Season in 2014/15. Not bad for £32 million.
Suffice to say, the Belgian is an indispensable member of the current Chelsea crop, dazzling his opponents with silky smooth skills that gleam with confidence and sometimes border on the edges of arrogance.
A unanimously successful transfer, and one that makes you wonder what kind of fee he would demand in today’s market.
Oscar – joined for £19.5 million from Internacional on July 25, 2012
You can say what you want about how this story ended, but there’s no denying the importance that Oscar played to Chelsea’s front-line in the first four seasons of his stay in London.
Who could forget his Man of the Match effort in his Champions League debut, where he scored two brilliant goals against Juventus, or his outside of the boot effort against QPR in the Premier League in 2014.
Oscar should also be praised for his versatility, workrate and rapid acclimatisation to English football; he moved to one of Europe’s top clubs as a 21-year-old with no experience on the continent, yet established an important role for himself and had no problem playing a deeper role under the watch of Jose Mourinho.
Cesar Azpilicueta – joined for £7 million from Marseille on August 24, 2012
One of the most economical purchases in the Premier League over the past decade, the signing of Cesar Azpilicueta from Marseille has been a success for a multitude of reasons.
Firstly, the fee. Secondly, the Spaniard has not only covered at right and left-back for the majority of his stay, but has transitioned so seamlessly to a central defensive role in the back three of Antonio Conte that it’s hard to remember he came in as a full-back in the first place.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, is the regard with which he is held at Stamford Bridge. He is arguably Chelsea’s first name on the teamsheet, such is his consistency, and unsurprisingly has found his way into the Spanish national team since joining The Blues.
Victor Moses – joined for £7 million from Wigan on August 24, 2012
Okay, I admit it; this transfer would take on a vastly different look if I was writing this 12 months ago.
However, once you put aside the outcast status he held at the club for three years, when he was loaned out to Liverpool, Stoke and West Ham, you discover that the Nigerian found his place in the side in the most unusual and unfamiliar of positions: right wing-back.
Or perhaps not so unusual when considering what the position requires: pace, strength, the ability to beat a man one-v-one and decent defensive attributes. All qualities that Moses possesses, at least enough to convince Antonio Conte to start him 29 times in a Premier League-winning season.
Marko Marin – joined for £6 million from Werder Bremen on July 1, 2012
Though an almost obscure transfer in retrospect, there was actually quite a bit of excitement behind the signing of German winger Marko Marin in 2012.
In fact, the signing of a direct, out-and-out winger was sorely needed at the time. Chelsea had Juan Mata, Eden Hazard, Yossi Benayoun and Victor Moses all capable of occupying the wide roles, and while all of them are solid players in their own right, Moses was the only other natural winger in the squad.Despite this, Marin failed to assert himself, scoring one goal and making 16 appearances in 2012/13. He then entered a four-year loan loop which saw him try his luck in Spain (Sevilla), Italy (Fiorentina), Belgium (Anderlecht) and Turkey (Trabzonspor), before making a permanent move to Greece with perennial champions Olympiakos last summer.
Andreas Christensen – joined from Brondby IF on July 1, 2012
It’s been five years since Danish centre-half Andreas Christensen was signed from Brondby and although he’s made a total of only three appearances for Chelsea, his two-year loan stint at Borussia Monchengladbach suggests that Antonio Conte has quite the player returning to his squad this summer.
Perhaps Chelsea will be quietly bragging about knowing this all along; they rejected the chance for Christensen to join the German side on a permanent basis last summer after he was named Borussia Monchengladbach’s Player of the Year.
Still just 21 years old, Christensen has shown incredible promise in the Bundesliga over the past two years, but has a whole added level of competition to contend with for a starting spot at Chelsea. If the Dane can break into the Blues first-team and hold down an important role, then it will add the finishing touches on what is already one of the most important transfer windows in recent Chelsea history.