Jose Mourinho is considered by many as one of the most successful managers in the era of modern football. Having coached many top clubs across Europe, it comes as no surprise that many of the signings made by the ‘Special One’ have turned out to be masterstrokes, including the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Diego Costa, Cesc Fabregas and Ashley Cole.
However, there are some players who have been complete revelations for their clubs after playing for the Portuguese legend, having helped the coach build his legend at the many clubs he has managed. On that note, here is a list of five of the top players signed by Jose Mourinho:
Arguably one of the best goalkeepers of the Premier League, the Czech Republic goalkeeper was brought into the side as a statement of purpose, with other big signings from that summer being Ricardo Carvalho and Arjen Robben. Cech proved to be one of the greatest signings for the blues, helping the Blues to back-to-back league titles in his first two seasons at the club.
In his first season itself, Cech won the Premier League’s Golden Glove, conceding a record-low 15 goals in the season at Chelsea. The legendary shot-stopper made 195 appearances under Mourinho, adding a third league title during the Portuguese’s second spell at Chelsea.
After Mourinho departed, Cech went on to add the Champions League trophy to his list of achievements after beating Bayern Munich in the final of the 2011-12 season, saving three penalties for Chelsea in the process.
Seeing his contributions somewhat limited after the arrival of Thibaut Courtois, Cech moved across town to join north London rivals, Arsenal during the 2015-16 season and won the Golden Glove in his debut season yet again. Cech has kept the most clean sheets in the Premier League – 202 – as well as having won the joint-most number of Golden Glove awards – four - during his 15 years in English Football.
Jose Mourinho landed at Real Madrid after successful stints at both Chelsea and Inter Milan. Upon arriving, he brought in the Croatian midfielder as a cover for Xabi Alonso, but only a few months after signing him from Tottenham Hotspur, a fans poll on Marca voted Modric as the worst signing of the 2012 summer. Cut to eight seasons later and the midfielder has rightfully established himself in the Los Blancos' starting lineup as well as winning the 2018 Ballon d'Or ahead of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Croatian had a difficult time adjusting to the star-studded Madrid side at the beginning of his career in the Spanish capital, but by the end of the season, he had established himself as a key component of the team. Although Mourinho left Madrid to return to Chelsea at the end of the season, Modric has gone to on register himself as one of the legends of the Galacticos.
During his eight years with the Los Blancos, Modric has made 333 appearances, scoring 22 goals. Although he has won the La Liga only once, he has won the Champions League as well as the FIFA Club World Cup on four different occasions.
Another player who went on to become a favourite at Santiago Bernabeu, Mesut Ozil can be rated as one of Mourinho’s best signings at the club. The German maestro arrived at the club on the back of a brilliant campaign at the 2010 FIFA World Cup and was one of the first signings of Mourinho at Real Madrid.
Although Ozil might not have been able to win the Champions League at the Spanish capital, he transformed his game under the Portuguese coach and earned his name as an assist-machine in the country. He was instrumental during Real Madrid’s record 32nd La Liga title during the 2012-12 season and finished on top of the La Liga assists table during the same year with 17 assists. The next season was less successful for Ozil, with the World Cup winner unable to win any silverware. He departed the same summer as the Portuguese coach, having played 159 matches for Madrid.
The German maestro hasn’t been able to replicate the similar performance at his current club Arsenal, although he was their best player in his first two seasons. He even set a Premier League record by becoming the first player to assist in seven straight matches. The midfielder ended his third season at Arsenal with eight goals and 20 assists as he went on to win the Arsenal Player of the Season award as well as two back-to-back FA Cups. Ozil is also the fastest player to reach 50 assists in the Premier League and is looking to revive his career under new head coach Mikel Arteta.
There are many players who have been signed by the ‘Special One’ twice, including the likes of Paulo Ferreira, Michael Essien and Ricardo Carvalho, but none of them have had as big an influence as Samuel Eto’o. Already adept at recognizing world-class talent, Mourinho brought in the striker at a cut-throat price at Inter in 2009, while seeing Zlatan Ibrahimovic move to Barcelona.
Eto’o was already a star player at Barcelona but fell out of favour with Pep Guardiola. Then in his second season at the club, Mourinho's Inter went on to register one of Europe’s most memorable treble of the Serie A, Coppa Italia and the UEFA Champions League. Eto’o was a key cog of this dream team during the 2009-10 season. He scored 53 goals in two seasons in Serie A and is among the only few players to have won the Champions league with different teams.
After a less-successful three-year spell with the Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala, the striker reunited with Mourinho during his second spell at Chelsea but was mainly used as a back-up. He scored 12 goals in 35 games at West London.
Probably among the best of Mourinho’s signings at Chelsea, Didier Drogba was one of Portuguese’s key assets in Chelsea’s title-winning squads. Mourinho first signed the Ivorian from Marseille in 2004 and he went on to make 226 appearances for Chelsea, scoring 100 league goals during his first spell with the club that lasted eight years. Drogba was Chelsea's record signing in Mourinho’s first season.
The Ivorian was crucial in all competitions, with his career highlight coming in the 2012 Champions League final against Bayern Munich, where he scored a late equaliser before netting the decisive penalty in the penalty shootout.
He left the club after eight seasons but came back two years later to play for the Portuguese head coach yet again.
One of the best African strikers alongside Samuel Eto’o, his 164 goals for the Blues in all competitions make him the club's fourth-highest goalscorer ever. He featured 28 times, scoring four goals during his second stint and retired from the game in 2018, aged 40. Drogba continues to share a unique bond with Mourinho and says he ‘changed his life’, with their relationship a perfect union of two serial winners.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Javier Soriano
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