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On May 31, 2006, Chelsea announced that, after several failed attempts, they had finally secured the signing of Andriy Shevchenko.
The £ 30m + they paid was, at the time, the sixth highest transfer fee in history and it also eclipsed the UK transfer record. Despite this, few argued that the Ukrainian was not worth it. It was considered one of, if not the, The best forward on the planet at the time, he scored 175 goals in just over 300 appearances for Milan and even won the 2004 Ballon d’Or.
Chelsea manager José Mourinho publicly described the signing as a ‘dream’ (via BBC Sport), although Roman Abramovich was much more interested in the movement than he was, so his personal mission was to recruit the high-profile leader.
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Shevchenko was equally delighted.
“There is a right time to join a football club and I think I came here at the perfect time.”
– Andriy Shevchenko in 2006
His prediction turned out to be very broad on the mark.
If you mention Shevchenko to a Chelsea fan, they will likely greet you with a tortured and haunted look, as he left in 2010 having scored just 22 goals in 77 appearances for the Blues.
However, his limited comeback during his playing career at Stamford Bridge has not prevented him from being linked to the management bench. should Frank Lampard under pressure will be given the kick.
But where did it all go wrong for the man who was supposed to take them to the next level in his playing days? 90min He turned on our time machine to find out.
To understand why his Chelsea career is considered so disappointing, one must remember what caliber of player the club believed he was signing in 2006.
During the previous two seasons, Shevchenko had starred in a Milan team that won the Scudetto in 2004 and reached the final of the 2005 Champions League. During his last two seasons in Italy, he had a combined 72 direct goals in 80 games. . Blessed with pace, intelligence and deadly finishing ability, he was one of the most feared forwards in the world.
However, not everything was what it seemed …
In his last match for Milan he injured his knee, but played despite pain with captain Ukraine in his first World Cup in Germany. It has been speculated that the damage he did at the tournament had a detrimental effect on his future career. Nothing concrete has ever been proven, though it offers an explanation for the pale Sheva imitation that arrived in the capital in 2006.
One of the talking points at the time was what Shevchenko’s arrival meant for Didier Drogba, who had been Chelsea’s offensive talisman the previous season.
Interestingly, during the curtain-raising season’s Community Shield, Mourinho opted to line up both players, along with Arjen Robben, in a risky 4-3-3. After 25 minutes of getting in the way of the other, Michael Ballack’s injury caused Shevchenko to move to a spot in the center of the offensive field.
Shortly after he would announce his arrival as a hero of the Blues, scoring a superb goal; Running toward a raised Frank Lampard ball, he lowered it gracefully with his chest, before displaying the trademark composure to guide it past Pepe Reina.
He was a classic Shevchenko and sadly it would also turn out to be one of the few highlights of his Chelsea career.
After getting off to a dream start, Shevchenko was unable to replicate these heights during the first half of the 2006/2007 season.
Deployed alongside Drogba in a 4-4-2, or as a fluid and wide forward in a 4-3-3, he had scored just three goals after 19 Premier League appearances. Even more disturbing was the fact that the vast majority of these appearances had been early days.
Things were not much better in Europe either. Despite Shevchenko starting the campaign as the all-time Champions League top scorer, he only scored once in the group stage, and that was on a dead rubber against Levski Sofia.
It was becoming clear that Drogba and Shevchenko weren’t a match, and the pair rarely combined to score during the season.
Shevchenko’s first season at Chelsea was not all bad. Just as Chelsea fans were losing hope that he would ever turn out well, the forward reminded everyone of what he was capable of during an FA Cup quarter-final replay against Tottenham.
After playing a 3-3 draw at Stamford Bridge, the second game was a less dramatic affair, until Shevchenko ignited things with an incredible first game in the 55th minute.
Picking up the ball on the right side, he swiftly passed Young-pyo Lee, before slicing off his favorite left foot and, with one fluid motion, fired a curly shot past Paul Robinson from an impossible angle.
One of the key tropes of Shevchenko’s career at Chelsea was suffering injuries in frustrating moments.
This habit began towards the end of his first season at the club. Helping the Blues defeat Arsenal in the League Cup final in February was a rare example of Shevchenko being available for a high-stakes game.
Due to injury, he missed his team’s Champions League semi-final second leg defeat to Liverpool, their FA Cup final victory over Manchester United, as well as their Premier League matchup, where gave the title to United.
By the end of the campaign, Shevchenko had managed just seven goals and eight assists in forty appearances in the Premier League and in Europe.
His inaugural campaign at Stamford Bridge may have been disappointing, but his second season was even worse.
After missing the first five games of the season, he scored again in the Champions League against Rosenborg, a match that would turn out to be José Mourinho’s last as Chelsea manager until he returned to Bridge in 2013.
This strike would be followed by just seven more all season, with only five of them entering the league.
In reality, aside from the only reinforcement of his Chelsea career against Aston Villa, he looked well off pace and had to deal with back, ankle and hernia problems during the campaign. Even hiring Olympic gold-winning sprinter Darren Campbell as his personal sprint trainer didn’t restore Shevchenko’s sharpness.
After consecutive seasons of problems, Shevchenko wanted to leave Chelsea, but unsurprisingly, interest was low.
In the end, Milan offered him a way out, signing him on loan during the 2008/2009 season. The move acted as a powerful warning of the dangers of homesickness, as Shevchenko came nowhere close to matching the dizzying heights of his first spell at the club.
In a campaign devastated by injuries, he failed to score a single goal in Serie A, playing a supporting role against players like Filippo Inzaghi and Alexandre Pato.
The following season, his loveless marriage to Chelsea finally came to an end when the club allowed him to rejoin the Dynamo Kyiv from childhood on a free transfer.
He may not have made it as a player, but could Shevchenko reinvigorate his level at Chelsea by returning as a manager one day?
It may seem far-fetched, but it shouldn’t be discounted. Reports suggest that he remains in contact with Roman Abramovich and has built an excellent reputation as a manager since his retirement, guiding Ukraine to qualification for Euro 2020 in 2019.