Classic Transfer: Chelsea sign versatile Frenchman to strengthen defence

first_imgtalkSPORT casts an eye back on the signing of William Gallas in May 2001.The French defender arrived at Stamford Bridge to become Claudio Ranieri’s first signing of the summer, ahead of the Italian’s debut season in charge in west London.A fee of £6.2 million was enough to prise the versatile defender away from Marseille, whom Gallas had played for four years, following a brief spell with Caen.He arrived two years before Roman Abramovich bought the club, but the Blues – who finished sixth in the Premier League the season before – were already investing heavily under the ownership of Ken Bates, in an attempt to secure Champions League football.Along with Gallas, Chelsea splashed out that summer was then considered a huge sum of £11m on 23-year-old Frank Lampard, as well as a combined £15m on Barcelona’s Emmanuel Petit and Boudewijn Zenden.Gallas initially formed a partnership with Marcel Desailly at the centre of the club’s defence, then John Terry, but the Blues could only manage another sixth place finish and were beaten 2-0 by double winners Arsenal in the FA Cup final. With Chelsea on the brink of financial ruin in 2003, Gallas was part of the team that sneaked into the Champions League places on the final day of the season.Within weeks, Roman Abramovich had bought the club from Bates and a new era of extravagant spending – the likes of which English football had never seen – was instigated at Stamford Bridge.Gallas was duly part of the squad that claimed the Blues’ first Premier League title under the guidance of self-appointed ‘Special One’, Jose Mourinho, in 2005.However, the Portuguese manager often used Gallas out of position as new arrival Ricardo Carvalho soon became an undroppable linchpin of Chelsea’s rearguard, alongside Terry.The lack of opportunities eventually proved to be a source of frustration for Gallas, who failed to clear Luis Garcia’s ‘ghost goal’ in a Champions League semi-final at Anfield in 2005.A second successive Premier League title was secured in Mourinho’s second season, but Gallas had seen enough. He wanted out.After threatening to score an own goal if he wasn’t allowed to leave, Gallas joined Arsenal, with Ashley Cole controversially moving in the opposite direction.Gallas went on to become the Gunners’ captain, before he switched to another London rival in the shape of Tottenham Hotspur in 2010. He liked burning bridges, didn’t he?Retirement arrived following a spell in the A-League with Perth Glory. Unfortunately, the former France international didn’t exactly cover himself in glory down under…But despite his sour departure from Stamford Bridge, Gallas’ time there remains the most fruitful spell of his career. William Gallas 1last_img read more

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