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cash to burn

Comparing Chelsea and Man City’s first windows when the money came in

Both Chelsea and Man City spent big but who spent better when the money arrived from abroad?

Chelsea and Man City are two symbols of the power that comes with foreign ownership.

First Roman Abramovich swooped into South-West London in the summer of 2003, bringing with him a seemingly endless supply of Russian rubles.

Four years later the ex-Prime Minister of Thailand Thaksin Shinawatra arrived under a similar wave of optimism when he took over the financial reigns at City.

But how did both allow Claudio Ranieri and Sven-Goran Eriksson to spend money in their first transfer windows, and what was the legacy they left behind?



Argentina v Brazil

As is normally the case with transfer windows, if there’s a large amount of cash being spent then there’s usually a couple of South Americans to spend it on.

Both Abramovich and Shinawatra went for two South Americans apiece during their first summer windows- two Argentinians for Chelsea, and two Brazilians for Man City.

Chelsea’s arrivals were Juan Sebastian Veron, a £15million signing from Man United, and Hernan Crespo, who cost £17mil from Inter Milan, where he’d been squeezed out by the emergence of Adriano and Obafemi Martins.

City’s Brazilian boys were nowhere near as well known to an English audience.

Geovanni arrived on a free transfer from Cruzeiro, having previously played for Barcelona and Benfica, with Elano joining him on an £8m deal from Shakhtar Donetsk, where he’d been partnering Fernandinho.



Proven pedigree v potential

Where their respective approaches to their first windows didn’t mirror was the approach to pedigree versus potential.

Chelsea signed two players from Real Madrid, in Geremi and Claude Makelele, as well as players with Premier League experience in Damien Duff, Joe Cole, Glen Johnson and Wayne Bridge.

Adrian Mutu arrived in England having just scored 17 goals in Serie A, meaning the only outfield player to arrive from out of the blue was Russian Alexey Smertin. Translator?

City went for potential, with Vedran Corluka, Rolando Bianchi, Gelson Fernandes and Valeri Bojinov all 24 or younger.

The most experienced newcomer of the lot was 28-year-old Martin Petrov who’d just won the Intertoto Cup with Atletico Madrid.



Goalkeepers galore

One of the stranger things about Abramovich’s first window was his love for reserve goalkeepers.

Jurgen Macho? Marco Ambrosio? The duo joined on free transfers from Sunderland and Chievo respectively, to put pressure on Carlo Cudicini.

Not happy there, Abramovich also sanctioned the signing of Neil Sullivan from Spurs. Surely just an early attempt to troll their London rivals.



Wielding the axe

One in, one out. Okay, maybe not, but when new signings come someone has to make way in the locker room.

Neither Chelsea nor City were shy when it came to saying goodbye.

Gianfranco Zola, arguably the best player in Chelsea’s history, left Stamford Bridge along with Albert Ferrer, Jody Morris, Graeme Le Saux and Ed de Goey.

City allowed the English core of Joey Barton, Nicky Weaver and Trevor Sinclair to depart, along with French titan Sylvain Distin and Tunisian Hatem Trabelsi.



Winter reinforcements

Chelsea didn’t go mad in the winter. The only arrival was Scott Parker, who moved in a £10m deal from Charlton.

But the comings and goings in Manchester were far harder to keep track of. Hardly surprising given the weather in Manchester.

Colombian youngster Felipe Caicedo and Benjani joined from Basel and Portsmouth respectively, for a cost of just under £10m.

Ousmane Dabo was allowed to leave for Lazio, while Ishmael Miller joined West Brom on deadline day.

Bianchi also hotfooted it back to Italy- he’d scored just four league goals- after complaining about the food and booze in England. Did no one offer him cheesy chips and gravy?



Leaving a legacy?

Abramovich is still at Chelsea, overseeing the most successful period in the club’s history.

Four league titles, four FA Cups, three League Cups, a Europa League and Champions League trophy have all been won under the Russian’s ownership.

By contrast, Shinawatra sold up under a hail of controversy barely a year later, ironically setting in motion the most successful period in City’s history under the Abu Dhabi United Group.

We know who we would rather buy our Sunday League club.