While Chelsea are being frustrated in the current transfer window – thanks largely to Barcelona – 19 years ago, it was hard to keep up with who the Blues were signing in a crazy summer.
Under manager Claudio Ranieri, the Premier League side went from a decent side to title challengers when Roman Abramovich bought the club in 2003 and made them one of the world’s richest clubs.
The Russian has now gone after 19 years, with American Todd Boehly replacing him as owner and his first few months in charge has not quite gone to plan.
But the club is in a very different place than it was in 2003. Before Abramovich arrived, Chelsea were on the edge of a financial abyss, deeply in debt and praying that Champions League football would help the club to stave off oblivion.
The billionaire came to the rescue, though. It is said he was convinced to buy the club from Ken Bates after the Blues nabbed the final Champions League qualifying spot at Liverpool’s expense with a 2-1 win.
He cleared debt and suddenly, not only were the Blues saved from going to the wall, the club launched an unprecedented spending spree that heralded an era of success to rival the biggest clubs in England and Europe.
Now, fans who had given up supporting the club during the bleaker years, were returning to Stamford Bridge to bask in the glory that was to come and they got a taste of things to come during one wild summer in 2003.
Here, talkSPORT.com looks at the spending spree…
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Jürgen Macho – free
The Austrian goalkeeper arrived shortly before Abramovich’s takeover, at a time when Chelsea were teetering on the brink, financially.
Macho was second-choice shot stopper at the Stadium of Light, and had made 22 Premier League appearances for the club, though he wouldn’t feature in a single match for the Blues before leaving in 2004.
Little did Chelsea fans know that Macho’s low key arrival was about to be overshadowed by a glut of super signings.
Marco Ambrosio – free
Another goalkeeper arrival before Abramovich officially took over, Ambrosio had been capped at Under-21 level by Italy and was intended to be an understudy to his compatriot Carlo Cudicini.
He lasted just a season at the Bridge, but did play in the memorable 2-1 Champions League quarter-final win against Arsenal at Highbury.
Glen Johnson (West Ham) – £6m
Johnson was just 18 when he signed on the dotted line from relegated West Ham, and became a key player during the 2004/05 title-winning campaign.
He eventually went on to play for Portsmouth, Liverpool, Stoke.
Geremi (Real Madrid) – £7m
The Cameroon international was snapped up after a season on loan in the Premier League with Middlesbrough.
He got plenty of game time, but never really became someone who fans rated particularly highly.
Wayne Bridge (Southampton) – £7m
Like Johnson, but on the opposite flank, Bridge was a highly rated young full-back when Chelsea swooped.
He scored one of Chelsea’s most famous goals, against Arsenal in the Champions League in 2004, and enjoyed a regular place in the side until Ashley Cole arrived two years later.
Damien Duff (Blackburn) – £17m
Now the big spending went into overdrive, as talented attacker Duff was lured to the Bridge for a big fee.
The Irishman went on to become a fan favourite and a crucial player, especially under Jose Mourinho who replaced Claudio Ranieri as manager in 2004.
Joe Cole (West Ham) – £6.6m
Everyone was raving about Cole when Chelsea signed him, and many believed he would go onto to become England’s next big talent.
While he never quite fulfilled that potential, he enjoyed a trophy-laden career at Stamford Bridge, lasting seven years at the club.
Juan Sebatian Veron (Manchester United) – £15m
A double whammy, Veron and Cole arrived on the same day as Chelsea simply ran out of days to announce their numerous signings.
While clearly talented, the jury was still out on Veron, and he didn’t do much at Chelsea to change that.
Adrian Mutu (Parma) – £15.8m
Next up, Chelsea signed an attacker who’d been tearing up Serie A, but the move was a disaster.
A controversial figure off the field, Mutu left the club in disgrace after testing positive for cocaine in 2005.
Alexey Smertin (Bordeaux) – £3.45m
One for Roman? Russian international Smertin was signed as the month was drawing to a close.
But there was more to come…
Hernan Crespo (Inter Milan) – £16.8m
World class striker Crespo arrived to bolster the Blues’ attack.
However, despite spending five years at Chelsea, he only really featured in two seasons.
Three years were spent on loan at Inter and Milan, before he was eventually sold back to Inter in 2008.
Neil Sullivan (Tottenham) – £500k
Another goalkeeper! Sullivan was tempted from Tottenham to provide competition for Cudicini.
Soon, all of them would be surplus to requirements with Petr Cech arriving in 2004.
Claude Makelele (Real Madrid) – £16m
And finally, Madrid man Makelele came on the last day of August, taking Chelsea’s spending to more than £110m, which was huge money in 2003.
Makelele is one of the few men in football honoured with his own position – ‘the Makelele role’ became famous while he was at Chelsea.