#20 Michael Ballack – 2006 – Bayern Munich to Chelsea – Free
Mourinho signed Andriy Shevchenko in the summer of 2006, with the forward failing to live up to the hype at Chelsea. However, another new addition proved more than adequate for the Blues, with Germany international Ballack turning down Manchester United, Inter Milan and Real Madrid to play under the Portuguese. He won both domestic cups in his first season, and went on to play in the 2008 Champions League final and win the 2009-10 Premier League title.
#19 Maciel – 2001 – Volta Redonda to Uniao Leiria – £90k
Despite working his way from assistant manager to manager at Benfica, Jose Mourinho lasted just a few months in charge due to a change in club president. Manuel Vilarinho wanted his own man for the job, and the Portuguese resigned after just nine games. His next position was at Uniao de Leiria, where he overachieved thanks to shrewd signings and tactical nous. One of those early signings was Brazilian forward Maciel, who combined with compatriot Derdei to help the team finish seventh and qualify for the Intertoto Cup. Mourinho’s talents were quickly noticed, and he was appointed Porto manager before the season had even finished.
#18 Paul Pogba – 2016 – Juventus to Manchester United – £89m
Manchester United broke the transfer record to bring Paul Pogba back to Old Trafford in 2016, having let the France midfielder leave for Juventus just four years earlier. In Turin, he had developed into one of the best young players in the world, with Mourinho eager to add him in his debut season as United boss. Pogba’s enormous price tag saw him criticised by pundits at first, but he soon settled into the team, with Mourinho hitting out at the “Einsteins” who had been too harsh on the 24-year-old. Pogba finished the season superbly, netting the opening goal in a 2-0 win over Ajax to help Manchester United win the Europa League.
#17 Salomon Kalou – 2006 – Feyenoord to Chelsea – £9m
Salomon Kalou was just 20 years old when Mourinho took him to the Premier League. The Ivory Coast forward had done well in the Eredivisie for Feyenoord, but was unproven at a high level. He quickly settled in the English top flight, playing 57 times in all competitions in his first season. In total, Kalou spent six seasons at Chelsea, winning every domestic trophy as well as the Champions League.
#16 Maniche – 2002 – Benfica to Porto – Free
One of Mourinho’s first signings after taking over at Porto was Maniche, whose contract had been allowed expire after falling out of favour at Benfica. Initially a winger, Mourinho converted the Portugal international into a midfielder, and he flourished in his new role. Mourinho also improved his discipline, and Maniche was a key part of the 2003 UEFA Cup winning side and the 2004 Champions League winners.
#15 Cesc Fabregas – 2014 – Barcelona to Chelsea – £27m
After three seasons with Barcelona, Fabregas sought a return to the Premier League in 2014. Rather than rejoin former club Arsenal, he was signed by their London rivals, and slotted into their XI immediately. He provided two assists on his debut and was only beaten to August’s Player of the Month award by team-mate Diego Costa. Chelsea went on to lift the Premier League title and added another in 2016-17 – something Fabregas never won in eight seasons at Arsenal.
#14 Angel Di Maria – 2010 – Benfica to Real Madrid – £29.7m
Before Mourinho’s time at Real Madrid, the club had underperformed despite spending a fortune building a team of Galacticos. The Portuguese was much shrewder in the market, with Argentine winger Angel Di Maria his most expensive acquisition in his maiden transfer window at Santiago Bernabeu. Although he was sent off in his first Copa de Rey final, he provided the assist for Cristiano Ronaldo’s goal to secure a 1-0 win. He went on to win the Champions League and more than double his price when sold to Manchester United in 2014.
#13 Michael Essien – 2005 – Lyon to Chelsea – £24.4m
Michael Essien became Chelsea’s most expensive signing when brought in during the summer of 2005, and quickly became a fan favourite. His performances earned him international recognition including a Ballon d’Or nomination, while he also became the first ever African player to be named Chelsea’s Player of the Year in 2007. In total, he spent eight seasons at Stamford Bridge, playing over 250 games.
#12 Derlei – 2002 – Uniao Leiria to Porto – £405k
Having previously had Brazilian striker Derlei at Leiria, Mourinho brought the clinical finisher to Porto when he was appointed at Estadio do Dragao. He netted 12 goals in 13 European games as Porto lifted the UEFA Cup in 2004 and then was a key player as they won the Champions League the following season
#11 Sami Khedira – 2010 – Stuttgart to Real Madrid – £12.6m
Sami Khedira’s first silverware at Real Madrid came in ideal circumstances, beating Barcelona in the Copa del Rey final. The Germany international was a key part of Mourinho’s team as they finished the season with over 100 points en route to La Liga. Khedira’s best years at Santiago Bernabeu came during Mourinho’s time at the club, with the Portuguese manager getting the best from the midfielder.
#10 Paulo Ferreira – 2002 – Vitoria Setubal to Porto – £1.8m
A Champions League winner with both Porto and Chelsea, Paulo Ferreira was one of Mourinho’s favourites, joining the Portuguese at both clubs. Mourinho initially turned Ferreira from a right-sided midfielder to a right-back at Porto, and the Portugal international spent the rest of his career as a defender. He only missed two league games during his time at Porto before Mourinho made him one of his first signings after moving to the Premier League.
#9 Ricardo Carvalho – 2004 – Porto to Chelsea – £20m
Another Porto player brought by Mourinho to Chelsea, Carvalho followed up an excellent Euro 2004 with Portugal by becoming a crucial component in Chelsea’s defence as they won the league for the first time in five decades. Despite falling out of favour with Mourinho for being dropped, Carvalho quickly returned to the starting XI and was even linked with Real Madrid when Mou took over at Santiago Bernabeu.
#8 Wesley Sneijder – 2009 – Real Madrid to Inter – £13.3m
After failing to inspire at Real Madrid, the Spanish side cut their losses and sold Wesley Sneijder to Inter Milan in 2009 for a reduced price. He made his debut the day after he signed, helping Inter win 4-0 in the Milan derby. The rest of the season was just as impressive, with the Netherlands international assisting one of Diego Milito’s goals in the 2-0 Champions League final win over Bayern Munich.
#7 Benni McCarthy – 2003 – Celta Vigo to Porto – £3.15m
Porto needed a replacement for Helder Postiga after the forward joined Tottenham Hotspur, and Mourinho turned to Benni McCarthy, who had previously been on loan in Portugal. His first season was tremendous, netting 20 goals in 23 appearances to help Porto win the league, and scored twice as they dumped Manchester United out of the Champions League en route to the final.
#6 Zlatan Ibrahimovic – 2016 – PSG to Manchester United – Free
When Mourinho brought Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Manchester United at the start of the 2016-17 season, many people thought the signing was years too late as the Swedish striker was past his prime. However, United’s new number nine was an instant success. He scored in the Community Shield and never stopped, finishing with 28 goals in all competitions as well as the EFL Cup and Europa League.
#5 Diego Milito – 2009 – Genoa to Inter – £22.2m
Diego Milito moved to Inter Milan as part of a double deal involving Thiago Motta, with both players quickly adapting to the step up. Not only did the Argentine striker end the Serie A season as top scorer, but he netted both goals in the Champions League final to help Inter to their first ever treble. Previously unheralded, Mourinho catapulted him into the spotlight, and he was named UEFA Club Footballer of the Year for 2009-10.
#4 Diego Costa – 2014 – Atletico Madrid to Chelsea – £32m
Mourinho’s first season back at Chelsea was a mixed bag, finishing third in the Premier League and reaching the last four of the Champions League. The next season, however, was a supreme return-to-form as they lost just three games all season en route to the title. Part of their improved form was the acquisition of striker Diego Costa, who netted 20 league goals in his first ever season in England.
#3 Samuel Eto’o – 2009 – Barcelona to Inter – £40m & Ibrahimovic
In his second season at Inter, Mourinho took a gamble by trading away Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Barcelona in order to get a reduction on the price of striker Samuel Eto’o. He scored 53 goals in two seasons in Serie A, causing club president Massimo Moratti to claim “I’m not sure if the deal that brought Eto’o to the club was my best piece of transfer business ever, but I really think it was a great piece of business for us.”
#2 Ashley Cole – 2006 – Arsenal to Chelsea – £5m & William Gallas
Widely regarded as the best ever left-back to play in the Premier League, Cole came to Chelsea in a controversial transfer which saw William Gallas go the other direction to Arsenal. He played over 300 times for the Blues in eight seasons at the club, and won the FA Cup four times to take his total tally for the competition to seven – the most of any player in history.
#1 Didier Drogba – 2004 – Marseille to Chelsea – £24m
The only player in Chelsea’s top 10 all-time goalscorer list from the Premier League era, Didier Drogba was Chelsea’s record signing when Mourinho brought him in from Marseille ahead of his first season. The Ivorian proved crucial in all competitions, with his highpoint coming in the 2012 Champions League final, where he scored a late equaliser before netting the decisive penalty in the shootout. His 164 goals for the Blues make him the club’s fourth highest goalscorer ever.