Christopher Nkunku next: Ranking the 10 Bundesliga transfers Chelsea have made in the Premier League era

Chelsea are closing in on RB Leipzig’s Christopher Nkunku – but they don’t have a great track record with their imports from Germany. 

According to reports, Nkunku has completed a medical and signed a pre-contract agreement with Chelsea ahead of a big-money transfer next summer.

The Blues could sign two Bundesliga players in 2023 as they have also been linked with RB Leipzig defender Josko Gvardiol. 

We’ve ranked the 10 players they’ve signed from the Bundesliga during the Premier League era from worst to best.

10. Sebastian Kneissl 

After rejecting approaches from Bayern Munich and Barcelona, Kneissl left Eintracht Frankfurt’s academy and joined Chelsea at the age of 17 in 2000.

The midfielder was regarded as one of Germany’s best prospects but his path into the Chelsea first-team was blocked following Roman Abramovich’s takeover in 2003.

“It was an exciting time but it cost me my career at Chelsea… partly,” Kneissl told “Claudio (Ranieri) was fair to all the young players. He said that his job had changed from developing us to having to deliver trophies.

“I actually thought back to my second season where I stopped working. If I trained harder, pushed myself, been a better player, I could’ve still got into the squad. I had to blame myself too.”

He was released at the end of the 2004/05 season, having failed to make a single first-team appearance for the Blues.

9. Marko Marin

Once labelled the ‘German Messi’ at Bayer Leverkusen, Marin joined Chelsea following their Champions League success in 2012.

The midfielder failed to live up to expectations and also struggled with a series of injury problems. He started just five times for the Blues and made a further 11 substitute appearances in 2012/13, scoring his solitary goal in a 4-1 win over Wigan.

Marin then had loan spells with Sevilla, Fiorentina, Anderlecht and Trabzonspor before securing a permanent move to Olympiakos in 2016.

8. Khalid Boulahrouz

Boulahrouz joined Chelsea from Hamburg in 2006 and the defender bizarrely took on the No.9 shirt, which is usually reserved for strikers.

The former Netherlands international couldn’t break up the iconic centre-back partnership between John Terry and Ricardo Carvalho and had a bit-part role at Stamford Bridge, making just 20 appearances for the club.

After a loan spell at Sevilla in 2007-08, he then returned to the Bundesliga and joined Stuttgart on a permanent deal.

7. Baba Rahman

One of Jose Mourinho’s last signings at Chelsea, Rahman joined the club in a £14million deal after impressing at Augsburg.

The left-back made 23 appearances in all competitions in 2015/16 but struggled to make an impact in west London and was then deemed surplus to requirements by Antonio Conte.

He’s since had seven loan spells away from Stamford Bridge and is spending the 2022/23 season at Championship side Reading.

6. Claudio Pizarro

Piarro joined Chelsea on a free transfer in 2007 and had some serious pedigree, having netted 100 Bundesliga goals during his time at Werder Bremen and Bayern Munich.

The striker hit the ground running and scored on his Premier League debut against Birmingham City but only got one more goal in the 2007/08 season, which also came against Birmingham.

He fell down the pecking order following Nicolas Anelka’s arrival in January 2008 and spent a season on loan at Werder Bremen before making the move permanent in 2009.

5. Andre Schurrle

Schurrle joined Chelsea from Bayer Leverkusen in 2013 and scored nine goals in his debut season, including a hat-trick in a 3-1 win against local rivals Fulham.

But his second season at Stamford Bridge was derailed by a bout of salmonella, and the former Germany international was sold to Wolfsburg in February 2015.

“I was getting really weak,” he said in 2018. “You see how skinny I am, so to lose three, four, five kilos … I did not have any strength and it took a long time to get the strength back.

“I never got the chance to prove myself being back 100 per cent. That was when I got the opportunity to go back to Germany and he (Jose Mourinho) let me go. I’ve never eaten chicken since.”

4. Christian Pulisic

Pulisic swapped Borussia Dortmund for Chelsea in 2019 and had the unenviable task of replacing Eden Hazard at Stamford Bridge.

The USA international scored in the 2020 FA Cup final and played a key role in their Champions League semi-final win over Real Madrid in 2021 but has been plagued by injuries and a lack of consistency.

He struggled to nail down a spot in the starting XI during Thomas Tuchel’s reign but will now be hoping for a fresh start under Graham Potter.

3. Timo Werner

Having netted 95 goals in 159 appearances for RB Leipzig, expectations were high when Werner joined Chelsea in a £47.6m deal in the summer of 2020.

But the Germany international never really recaptured the form he had shown in Germany and scored 23 goals in 89 appearances for the Blues.

He still endeared himself to the Chelsea fans with his work rate and enjoyed some memorable moments at Stamford Bridge, including a goal against Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-final in 2020/21.

The striker lifted the Champions League alongside the UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup before being allowed to return to RB Leipzig for a substantial loss.

2. Kai Havertz

After starring for Bayer Leverkusen, Havertz became one of the most sought-after young players in Europe and joined Chelsea in 2020 in a deal that could potentially be worth around £71m.

The 23-year-old has shown glimpses of his undoubted talent but is yet to justify that price tag and has been far too inconsistent.

But he’s etched his name into Chelsea’s history books and got himself up to second in this list by scoring winning goals in a Champions League final and a FIFA World Club Cup final.

1. Michael Ballack

There was only ever going to be one winner.

Ballack left Bayern Munich at the end of the 2005-06 season and snubbed Manchester United in order to join Chelsea on a free transfer.

The former Germany international immediately formed part of a brilliant midfield trio alongside Frank Lampard and Michael Essien and became a fan favourite at Stamford Bridge.

He made 166 appearances during his four years at Chelsea and helped them win a Premier League title, three FA Cups and a League Cup before returning to the Bundesliga with Bayer Leverkusen.

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