Sport

Players who launched their careers away from Stamford Bridge

Chelsea may have won the Premier League last season but have struggled to defend the title at the start of the current campaign. Meanwhile, three former Blues are performing brilliantly at their respective clubs.

Three men who are scoring and creating goals for fun with their teams at the top of the table and have made Chelsea think twice if they made a mistake in letting them go.

KEVIN DE BRUYNE Chelsea 2012-2014; sold to Wolfsburg for £18million in January 2014; now at Manchester City

The star performer of the current Premier League season by common consensus. When he arrived to Roberto Di Matteo’s side in January 2012 at the age of 21 he found his opportunities limited and was subsequently loaned to Werder Bremen. He returned from a successful spell in Germany to Jose Mourinho’s promises of first-team football, which never materialised. Having become apparent he was surplus to requirements, he was sold to Wolfsburg for £18m, after just nine competitive fixtures for the Blues. De Bruyne took the Bundesliga by storm and it wasn’t long before Manchester City came knocking. Wolfsburg could not resist £55m and the Citizens have seen their gamble pay off. 26 goals and 46 assists in 106 matches for City and he continues to improve. steadily.

MOHAMED SALAH Chelsea 2014-2016; sold to Roma for £13.5m in August 2016; now at Liverpool

Salah has hit the ground running at Anfield, scoring 12 goals since joining in the summer. After arriving from Basel in 2014, the Egyptian actually got the chance to play under Jose Mourinho despite no shortage of wingers available (Eden Hazard, Andre Shurrle, Oscar and Willian). The following season it was a completely different story and he failed to break into the starting lineup. He was sent out on loan to Fiorentina, before shining for Roma. His stunning displays earned him a return to the Premier League with Liverpool paying £38m to bring him to Anfield. As Klopp had hoped, the winger has fitted into the Reds’ fast-paced attacking game seamlessly.

ROMELU LUKAKU Chelsea 2011-2014; sold to Everton for £28m in July 2014; now at Manchester United

Another young Belgian snapped up by Chelsea only to find an oversupplied squad blocking his pathway to stardom. The Blues loaned him out to West Bromwich Albion where he began to bang in the goals. He outscored all his Chelsea teammates at the Hawthorns but it proved insufficient for boss Jose Mourinho who packed him off on loan to Everton the following season. The towering Belgian delivered at Goodison but his chance at Stamford Bridge never came. He signed for the Toffees permanently, racked up goal returns of 20, 25 and 26 per season and, when Conte identified him as a key summer transfer target, the Blues were beaten to the chase by Manchester United, who forked out £75m with a potential £15m extra in add-ons. Lukaku scored 10 goals in his first nine appearances for the club.

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