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10 Best Chelsea Midfielders Of All-time.

Updated: Dec 21, 2023

Chelsea have seen a multitude of exceptional midfielders grace their ranks throughout an illustrious history so far. From tireless workhorses to creative maestros, the players have left behind a legacy that Blues supporters will remember forever.

These individuals embody a spirit and determination that has come to define Chelsea with a select number considered amongst the greatest midfielders to have ever graced Stamford Bridge.

Who are the 10 best Chelsea midfielders of all time?

10. Terry Venables

Terry Venables joined Chelsea as a youth player in 1958, breaking into the first team to

become an integral part of a team that won the 1965 League Cup. He was a dogged and

instinctive midfielder who at the time newspapers billed as the "new Duncan Edwards."

He played 202 times for the club across seven seasons and scored 26 goals from predominantly central areas. His best campaign was 1964/65 where he netted on 11 occasions including eight strikes in the league alone.

9. Ruud Gullit

Dutch footballing legend Ruud Gullit arrived in 1995 as a sweeper. He later became Blues

player-manager and only the second foreign boss in England’s top-flight after Ossie Ardiles. As a player, Gullit's elegance and intelligence were immediately evident along with his vast experience.

His remarkable technical skill and European pedigree helped him excel in various positions including midfield or as an advanced attacker. His influence on the team was profound, guiding Chelsea to the 1997 FA Cup - their first major trophy in 27 years. He played 63 times for the Stamford Bridge side with his debut season a personal highlight as he went on to score six times.

8. Arjen Robben

Dutch winger Arjen Robben was sensational during his time at Chelsea. He signed from PSV in 2004 by then newly appointed José Mourinho as part of Stamford Bridge's fresh and dynamic forward line. Robben was a formidable force on the pitch with blistering pace, dribbling skill and lethal left foot - a nightmare package for opposing defenders.

Robben scored 15 goals across three seasons in London and was vital in helping Chelsea secure back-to-back Premier League titles in 2005 and 2006. A year later he moved to Real Madrid, having shown the Premier League his incredible talent as one of the club's most beloved players.

7. Michael Essien

Ghanaian powerhouse Michael Essien arrived at Chelsea in 2005, excelling in defensive midfield with fantastic athleticism and tenacity. Essien's work cannot be overstated as he arguably evolved the CDM role in the late 2000s. He was pivotal in the team's success as the Blues won two Premier League titles, four FA Cups, one League Cup and a Champions League in 2012.

Essien was famed for his thunderous long-range shot and seemed to deliver crucial goals in big games including a spectacular European Cup semi-final strike against Barcelona in 2009. The Ghanaian left Stamford Bridge at the end of the 2013/14 campaign having made 256 appearances and scored a respectable 25 goals.

6. Pat Nevin

Pat Nevin was a pacy and creative winger. The Scot signed for Chelsea in 1983 for a fee of £95,000 and became a fan’s favourite. His debut season was incredibly noteworthy, scoring 14 goals whilst creating numerous chances for the likes of Kerry Dixon and David Speedie.

Chelsea won promotion as Second Division champions with Nevin voted Chelsea's player of the year. He had a dynamic style of play and an ability to glide past defenders with relative ease. Nevin could deliver pinpoint crosses and was a constant threat on the pitch. He was a crucial part of the Chelsea team that won the Football Association’s Full-members Cup in 1986.

5. Claude Makelele

Arriving from Real Madrid in 2003, French midfielder Claude Makelele revolutionised the holding midfield role and developed into an irreplaceable component of Chelsea's success under manager Jose Mourinho during his first spell in London. His position was soon nicknamed the "Makelele role," his influence extending beyond the pitch with many teams seeking to replicate his style of play for themselves.

His ability to read the game, break up opposition attacks and distribute the ball with precision made him an invaluable asset. During his five seasons at Stamford Bridge, Makelele won five major honours including two Premier League titles, an FA Cup and two League Cups. In 2005, the French international’s contribution to the club was recognised with an inclusion in Chelsea’s Centenary XI.

4. Charlie Cook

Charlie Cook is a devoted Chelsea supporter and had two separate spells at the club - from 1965 to 1973 - and following a two-year stint at Crystal Palace returned to Stamford Bridge where he remained until 1978. Yet it was during his first period with the Blues that he built a reputation as a successful tricky winger.

He first signed for Chelsea in 1966 for a then-club record of £72,000 as part of manager Tommy Docherty's restructuring of the London side. Cook scored 30 times for the Blues, helping them secure the FA Cup in 1970 and a year later beating Real Madrid in a replay to win the European Cup Winners Cup.

3. Gianfranco Zola

Italian football icon Gianfranco Zola permanently etched his name into Chelsea's history books soon after his arrival from Parma in 1996 for £4.5 million. It wouldn't take long for Zola to acclimatise to the demands of the Premier League. During his first full season, he played 30 times and scored a respectable twelve goals.

Standing at just 5 feet 6”, the skillful playmaker possessed exceptional technique, often drifting into wide or more advanced areas of the pitch. He possessed a natural flair for sublime goals and assists that left Chelsea fans in awe. Zola could unlock defences, score wonderful free-kicks and had exquisite dribbling skills that regularly provided moments of pure magic.

2. Eden Hazard

Belgian midfield maestro Eden Hazard quickly established himself in the Premier League

following his journey from Lille in 2012. He was blessed with immense technical ability,

power, speed and creativity. Across seven campaigns Hazard’s performances season on

season were immense and in his final year, the Belgian scored 21 goals.

He won two Premier League titles, an FA Cup, two League cups and a pair of Europa League trophies. Hazard made 352 appearances for Chelsea, netting 110 times which makes the midfielder the club’s ninth-highest goal scorer of all time. He could single-handedly turn matches in Chelsea's favour, making mazy runs and gliding past defenders with ease.

1. Frank Lampard

The greatest Chelsea midfielder of all time is undoubtedly Frank Lampard. Signed by Claudio Ranieri in 2001 from West Ham for a fee of £11 million, the Englishman eventually became the club’s all-time leading scorer, finding the net an incredible 211 times in 648 appearances. Lampard’s impact continued to be impressive. He scored more than 20 goals a season across five successive campaigns from 2005 to 2009.

The midfield genius won eleven major honours during his stay at Stamford Bridge including three Premier League titles, four FA cups, two league cups along with the Champions League in 2012 and Europa League title a year later. A dynamic central midfielder with an awesome long-range strike, Lampard’s unquestionable legacy at Chelsea is secure and his greatness is never to be forgotten.

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