It is no secret that Chelsea are often dubbed the ‘Hijackers’ of the Premier League .
Over the years, especially ever since Roman Abrahmovic took over the club, Chelsea has often picked up players right under the noses of other clubs , be it Mohammed Salah from Liverpool, Juan Mata from Arsenal or Willian from Tottenham.
However, Chelsea has especially found it enjoyable to nab Man United top targets .
A look back at both club’s recent transfer histories shows that, when they have gone head-to head over transfer targets, Chelsea have a habit of snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.
You’d think why would Chelsea bother about that when they should be keeping tabs on their own transfer priorities?
Chelsea has always loved to take on Manchester United and perhaps signing their targets would indicate that the power is now shifting away from Old Trafford.
Check out the list of players Chelsea nabbed right under the nose of Manchester United:
Arjen Robben (2004)
“Old Trafford is the only place he wants to play and if he can’t play there he would rather stay at PSV. In fact, he would rather play in their reserves than go to Chelsea. My son will not go to Chelsea. Over my dead body will he go there.”
Those were the exact words that came from Robben’s father ahead of his move to Old Trafford. Robben flew to London to meet Sir Alex Ferguson in 2004 and, like his father, was impressed by what he heard.
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“It would be fantastic if I could play for Manchester.”, said the Dutch superstar, then just 19. However, Chelsea’s late bid to bring Robben to Stamford Bridge blew United’s offer out of the park and Robben ended up at Chelsea, where he played a part in winning two successive Premier League titles.
“My meeting with Sir Alex Ferguson went very well,” says Robben, “and I was ready to sign. But I was convinced by Ranieri and Kenyon – they told me the whole Chelsea story and it appealed to me.
I wasn’t disappointed to miss out on United as in football things happen very fast.” Oh and by the way, Robben’s father is still alive.
Didier Drogba (2004) :
Imagine what damage the striker partnership of Didier Drogba and a young Wayne Rooney could have inflicted on all the Premier sides.
Well, it was almost a dream come true for most United fans when it came out in public that Alex Ferguson was targeting the big Ivorian.
According to Sir Alex Ferguson, United were weighing up a move for the big Ivorian just before he joined Chelsea, back in 2004.
“We went to check him out [at Marseille],” Fergie wrote in one of his books, “but the club wanted £25million and Chelsea moved in for the kill before we had made up our minds.”
Had Drogba made the move to Old Trafford, it would have made such a difference to the United side in the mid 2000s. Safe to say it was a dream turned nightmare for the Old Trafford faithful.
John Obi Mikel (2006) :
The transfer dispute between Manchester United and Chelsea , although strained over the years, hit the peak when it came to the transfer involving Nigerian midfielder John Obi Mikel.
Mikel had not only agreed to join The Red Devils before moving to Stamford Bridge – he had actually signed a contract with them.
However it turned out that Chelsea had simultaneously agreed a deal with his Norwegian club Lyn Oslo to bring him to west London.
Chelsea claimed that they helped Mikel to move to Europe with the intention of signing him later and had even trained with the club couple of years earlier, although in all fairness he even had a trail at Old Trafford.
And, after what became three-club negotiations, United eventually relented and accepted £12m from Chelsea to terminate their option on Mikel and allow him to move to Stamford Bridge.
Eden Hazard (2012) :
Boy, this would have made a world of difference in the Premier League today had Hazard opted to move to Manchester United instead of Chelsea.
Sir Alex was a big fan of the Belgian and was desperate to bring him to Old Trafford as his search for a true replacement for Portugese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo had been in vain ever since he left for Real Madrid.
When news came out that Sir Alex was in contact with Eden Hazard, Roman Abrahmovic stepped in . “I spoke with Abramovich, he is very simple and loves football,” Hazard said at the time.
“There was a struggle between Chelsea and United, but according to me Chelsea has the best project. I was in advanced contact with both clubs and I spoke to both coaches.” That must have really stung the Reds.
Pedro (2015) :
Having seen his game time with Barcelona reduce significantly with the arrival of Brazilian superstar Neymar, Pedro opted to move out Camp Nou and reports widely claimed that his destination was likely to be Old Trafford.
In August 2015, the club’s vice-chairman Ed Woodward flew out to Barcelona to complete a deal for the Spanish winger and with just the formalities to be completed , United fans were looking forward to the Pedro’s unveiling at the Carrington.
However, Chelsea stepped in at the last moment and he ended up at Stamford Bridge instead. Pedro’s agent claimed United “fell asleep” during negotiations, and Pedro himself confirmed as much at his farewell press conference.
“I had offers from other English clubs – Manchester United, City and Chelsea, who were the club that more rapidly resolved my transfer and the one that showed more interest in me.”
However, with now reports claiming that Mourinho’s United did hijack Chelsea’s bid to bring Romelu Lukaku from Everton, it’s safe to say that the club from Old Trafford has finally got one over the Blues.