5 Chelsea rejects thriving in the Europa League this season

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Chelsea fans may have little interest in tonight’s Europa League action but Thursday’s continental encounters could offer up some fascinating viewing for fans of the Blue persuasion.

After all, a whole host of former Pensioners are due to take to the pitch. And with several of the stars on show no doubt keen to get one over on Jose Mourinho and Roman Abramovich, it could make for some fine entertainment.

Here are the five Chelsea rejects to keep an eye out for in Europe.

1. Yuri Zhirkov – Dinamo Moscow

The Russian winger never settled at Stamford Bridge after moving to the Blues from CSKA Moscow for £18m back in 2009. Sold on after less than 30 Premier League appearances, Zhirkov netted the winner for current club Dinamo Moscow against PSV Eindhoven in the group phase.

2. Demba Ba – Besiktas

Sold to Besiktas in the summer for €6m, despite scoring important goals against the likes of Liverpool and PSG last term, Ba’s fine form has continued in Turkey. The ex-Newcastle and Chelsea man has scored 24 goals in 34 outings including eight in 11 European appearances.

3. Mohamed Salah – Fiorentina

The Egyptian international was loaned out to La Viola as part of the deal that saw Juan Cuadrado move in the opposite direction. It has proven to be a canny move for Fiorentina with Salah scoring six goals in eight games including the winner against Tottenham in the Europa League.

4. Kevin De Bruyne – Wolfsburg

One of the undoubted star performers in both the Europa League and Bundesliga this season, De Bruyne cost the Wolves £18m from Chelsea in January 2014 and it’s proven to be money well spent with the 23-year-old racking up 14 goals in 22 assists in all competitions this term.

5. Romelu Lukaku – Everton

Arguably the most high-profile of the Chelsea rejects, Lukaku’s one major contribution under Jose Mourinho at Stamford Bridge was to miss a penalty in the European Super Cup final. Sold to Everton for £18m he’s currently the top scorer in the Europa League.

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Jack Beresford

Jack Beresford is a content writer with over five years of experience in writing about sport and betting, including a two-year spell with Axonn Media. Contributes articles to HereIsTheCity and Lad Bible, while previous credits include Bwin, FTB Pro, Bleacher Report and the QBE rugby. Avid follower of tennis, rugby union, motorsport and football, Jack also writes about poker for Cardspiel.com alongside Guardian journalist Dominic Wells.