Mohamed Salah, Rivaldo, George Best, Gareth Bale; some truly exceptional and iconic names have donned the number 11 over the years. It’s undoubtedly a special shirt number.
And, following his arrival at Chelsea, it’s also the number Joao Felix has been given for his loan spell at Stamford Bridge until the conclusion of the 2022/23 campaign.
There has been no shortage of memorable number 11s at the Bridge over the years, although, as the below list will tell you, some fared better than others.
Let’s take a look at the last five players to have taken up that famous number and how they fared in Chelsea blue.
Prior to the 2012/13 season, a then-20-year-old Oscar turned up in west London having just signed for the Blues in a deal worth around £20m with expectations fairly high. A supposed generational talent destined to star in Brazil’s new generation, the midfielder – to his credit – showed flashes of his brilliance during his time at Stamford Bridge.
A lasting memory of his time in England was his spectacular strike against Juventus in the 2012/13 Champions League group stage – the looping, bending, perfectly controlled yet ferocious strike into the top corner epitomised his boundless potential (the goal was also his second on his Champions League debut, which also gave a nod to his quality).
He’d go on to score ten and assist eight across European competition and the Premier League in his maiden campaign at the Bridge, playing a big role in Chelsea’s Europa League triumph and third-placed domestic finish.
Another impressive season ensued but then came a lack of true progression. After two Premier League titles, a League Cup and success in Europe, his eventual move to China was a mammoth shock to everyone but a transfer away from SW6 was little surprise given his largely downhill trajectory in his final two seasons at the club.
There is no debate over the Chelsea career of Didier Drogba, however.
The Ivorian is an undisputed legend of west London. Originally given the number 15 shirt in his first spell, he went on to make the number 11 his own and had no trouble getting it back when returning to Stamford Bridge for the 2014/15 season.
The striker might not have lived up to the 341 appearances, 157 goals and 84 assists he managed between 2005 and 2012 but, anyone would say, it was fantastic to see him back in the Premier League and back in Chelsea blue.
He started just seven of the 28 league games he played on his year-long second spell at the club, managing five goal contributions in 852 minutes of action – that didn’t stop him from adding another Premier League winner’s medal to his collection, however. His Champions League contribution turned out much better as he managed a goal involvement every 97 minutes before the Blues exited at the round-of-16 stage.
Whatever his record on his return, Drogba’s overall numbers for Chelsea speak for themselves – here are those 2014/15 stats for reference, though…
Cuadrado’s stint with the number 11 shirt was so short it almost doesn’t warrant a mention. But mention it we will.
The Colombian’s time at Stamford Bridge did not go well and he seemed destined for the exit door even when he came on as a substitute in a 3-0 defeat to Manchester City in August 2015.
He sported the 11 shirt for 26 minutes before making the switch to Juventus later that month. He’s gone on to make over 200 appearances for the Italian giants as a versatile winger.
Plagued by injury after rising to stardom and placing himself in the wonder boy category during his breakthrough seasons with Milan, Alexandre Pato’s transfer to Chelsea years later was bizarre from the outset.
After going someway to rebuilding his career back in Brazil, Chelsea acquired his services in January 2016, signing the Brazilian on loan for the second half of the 2015/16 season.
It took almost three months for the striker to make his debut (to be fair, he won and converted a penalty in the Blues’ 4-0 Premier League victory against Aston Villa on the day) but never featured again after earning a second appearance the week after, starting in a 1-0 defeat to Swansea.
A few months that were demonstrative of his early-career injuries and subsequent fitness troubles, Pato’s time at Chelsea definitely didn’t warrant taking Drogba’s number 11 shirt.
Far from brief was Pedro’s stay in west London. After wearing the number 17 shirt during his debut season in 2015/16, the Spaniard claimed number 11 the following campaign and wore it until his departure in the summer of 2020.
Over his five-year stint at Stamford Bridge, the former Barcelona winger was a reliable presence – rarely ever dazzling in sensational fashion but never straying from consistency – and finished his Chelsea career a Premier League, FA Cup and Europa League champion.
He was particularly impressive as he played a major roles in Chelsea’s 2016/17 Premier League triumph, racking up nine goals and ten assists in 35 appearances over the campaign, and the club’s 2018/19 Europa League victory, scoring five times and providing three assists as he played in all but one of the Blues’ fixtures.
The man from whom Felix will inherit the number 11 shirt is Timo Werner – we all know how his Chelsea career panned out.
Joining the club in the summer of 2020 on the back of scoring 28 Bundesliga goals for RB Leipzig the season before, his two-year spell at Stamford Bridge was riddled more with offside gags than goals as he became a target for jokes.
There were undeniably sparks of quality and moments to remember (a Champions League title, to which he contributed four goals and two assists, springs to mind) for the German before he returned to Leipzig in 2022, but he never really got off the mark at Chelsea – a first season in which he assisted a whopping 12 goals, although only managed six strikes of his own, makes his second-season blues all the more upsetting.
After a thoroughly disappointing 2021/22 campaign, the German called it quits at Stamford Bridge having failed to live up to his £50m price tag.