As one of Europe’s biggest spenders in the transfer markets, Chelsea have had some fantastic foreign players in their ranks over the past 20 years.
The Blues have used their wealth under owner Roman Abramovich to bring some of the best players in the world to Stamford Bridge, which has led them to win every possible trophy over the years.
As Gary Neville called his best Manchester United overseas XI this week, Sportsmail has decided to check out the rest of the major Premier League teams to see who their best team of foreign importers has been in their history …
Goalkeeper: Petr Cech
Petr Cech (above) is one of Chelsea and the Premier League’s biggest shot stoppers ever
The Czech goalkeeper was not only Chelsea’s best goalkeeper for eleven years, but was also one of the best shot stoppers in the Premier League at the time.
In his Stamford Bridge career, Cech has won four Premier League titles, four FA Cups, three League Cups and the 2013 Europa League trophy. Most importantly, he was a man-of-the-match in the Champions League final. as the Blues won the competition for the first time in their history in 2012.
Cech saved a penalty from Bayern Munich’s Arjen Robben in extra time before leading them to a memorable shootout victory in the German city, confirming his status as a perennial Chelsea legend.
Right back: Branislav Ivanovic
Serbian defender Branislav Ivanovic can score goals and keep them from going past him
The Serbian right back was not only a reliable option in the back, but also posed a threat in the opposition’s penalty area, coming in with many important goals in his Chelsea tenure.
At Chelsea, Ivanovic scored the winning goals in the 2013 Europa League final, the 2015 League Cup semi-final and against Napoli in the Champions League of the last 16 on his way to winning the competition with the Blues in 2012.
The veteran defender is ranked 15th among the first ever goalscorers for defenders in England’s highest league, but has also won three league titles, three FA Cups and both took major European club trophies.
Center-back: Marcel Desailly
Ex-Chelsea captain Marcel Desailly played some of the best football matches of his career in London
The French defender may not have won as many trophies as the other players on this list, but was certainly just as good for the rest in a Chelsea shirt.
Desailly formed an excellent partnership with Frank Leboeuf when the Blues won the UEFA Super Cup and the FA Cup 2000 in 1998 with the French duo by their side.
The center-back also won the World Cup and European Championships with France while a Chelsea player, making him one of the greatest defenders of the modern era.
Center-back: Ricardo Carvalho
Ricardo Carvalho was one of Jose Mourinho’s first acquisitions in a successful era for the Blues
Jose Mourinho made a statement by forcing £ 20m for Ricardo Carvalho in his first transfer window in West London and it could be said that the Portugal international paid that fee after one season.
Carvalho was a different type of defender than Blues captain John Terry, but the pair worked well together during their six-year partnership at Stamford Bridge.
The Portuguese defender had everything you wanted in a center-back – fast, good in the air and the ability to carry the ball out of defense. He wrote himself in Chelsea folklore, scoring one of the goals in the 3-0 win over Manchester United in 2006, securing back-to-back titles for Mourinho’s men.
Left back: Cesar Azpilicueta
The current captain Cesar Azpilicueta has been on the defensive since 2012
Since arriving at Chelsea in 2012, Cesar Azpilicueta has been an ever-present figure in the Blues backline – be it a fullback or a center-back.
The Spaniard is approaching 400 appearances in all competitions for the Blues and has been the perfect new leader to succeed the likes of John Terry and Frank Lampard who left West London a few years after Azpilicueta’s time.
The defender has won two Premier League titles, plus an FA Cup and League Cup trophy, with more to come.
Defensive midfielder: Claude Makelele
Claude Makelele made his own defensive position in midfield (literally!) At Chelsea
The French midfielder perfected the role of the defensive midfield so well that the position was named after him.
Makelele was a rock at the heart of the field for Chelsea and his defensive acumen allowed the likes of Lampard, Michael Ballack and Michael Essien to influence things at the top of the field.
He may not have had the technical excellence of other Premier League midfielders, but the Frenchman was an expert at chasing down opponents and winning the ball cleanly, and finding more talented teammates.
Central midfielder: Ruud Gullit
Ruud Gullit joined Stamford Bridge in 1995 before becoming player manager a year later
The Dutch midfielder may amount to one of the best free transfers in Premier League history, but Gullit was one of the first players of the ‘Overseas Revolution’ at Chelsea we are used to today.
Gullit’s flexibility was reflected in his role as a sweeper at Chelsea, taking the league by storm as a midfielder.
Gullit’s style of ‘sexy football’ quickly rose to fame after being named player manager with the Blues just a year later, and they won the FA Cup in his first full season in charge.
Central midfielder: Michael Essien
Ghanaian midfielder Michael Essien was the all-action midfielder who brought Chelsea success
Box-to-box midfielder Essien was the all-action midfielder that made Chelsea so difficult to break into in the early to mid-2000s.
The Ghanaian was tough in the tackle, but also had an offensive advantage in his game. His ability to score from long range has been a useful weapon for the Blues, just ask Arsenal and Barcelona.
Essien won two league titles at Stamford Bridge and four FA Cups, while also playing a part in the Blues Champions League winning season.
Right attacker: Gianfranco Zola
Gianfranco Zola dazzled the defense and stunned Premier League supporters at Chelsea
Italian forward Zola brought a style of football that few people had seen in English football before.
The five-foot forward was responsible for some brilliant attacking moves and some sensational goals during his seven years in West London for the Blues.
That brutal film from a corner kick against Norwich remains one of the greatest Premier League goals of all time, but was just a glimpse of what the little Italian was like. In total, Zola won six trophies at Chelsea, including two FA Cup honors.
Center-Forward: Didier Drogba
Didier Drogba was the big player for Chelsea and came to the aid of the club in times of dire need
The Ivorian may not have had the best goalscoring record for a first-choice Premier League forward, but Drogba also came to the rescue of Chelsea when they needed him.
His performance against Bayern Munich in 2012 is one of the best individual performances in a Champions League final as he tied for a late equalizer before scoring the winning spot kick in the shootout at a time when most Chelsea fans have the rest of their lives.
Drogba was also known for scoring at Wembley, scoring in four separate FA Cup finals for Chelsea.
Big. Game. Player.
Front left: Eden Hazard
The Belgian Eden Hazard was Chelsea’s main attacker at Stamford Bridge for many years
The Belgian winger has matched his double digital goal in six of his seven campaigns with Chelsea and has been the Blues’ main striker during his entire stay at Stamford Bridge.
Hazard could take on multiple defenders at once – and beat them all – and got every Chelsea fan off his seat at least once during his Blues career.
His most high-profile moments at Chelsea include scoring the goal to win the West Londoners the league title in 2015, a man-of-the-match showing in the Europa League final 2019 and winning the competition for Leicester City with a stunning goal against Tottenham in 2016.