On this day: Chelsea sign Gus Poyet

Uruguayan midfielder Gus Poyet signs for Premier League outfit Chelsea on a free transfer from Real Zaragoza.

The price of an English footballer will often see Premier League clubs shop abroad to bolster their squad. After all, teenager Luke Shaw has just cost Manchester United £30m, while Adam Lallana is reportedly close to linking up with Liverpool for £25m.

Perhaps the first club to exploit the cheaper foreign market was Chelsea, who in the summer of 1996 splurged out on Roberto di Matteo, Frank Leboeuf and Gianluca Vialli, before Gianfranco Zola arrived that November.

Then, 12 months later, the likes of Tore Andre Flo and Celestine Babayaro arrived at Stamford Bridge, as did Gus Poyet, who signed on the dotted line 17 years ago today.

The Uruguayan international arrived at Chelsea on a free transfer from Real Zaragoza, whom he had helped to win the Copa del Rey and UEFA Cup Winners' Cup (beating Arsenal in the final) during his seven-year stint in Spain.

His 60 goals in a Zaragoza shirt had earned Poyet the reputation as a free-scoring midfielder and he lived up to that billing in just his second appearance for the Blues when he found the net in the 6-0 rout of Barnsley at Oakwell. However, soon after, a cruciate knee ligament injury would render Poyet out of action for a number of months.

He returned, though, to help Chelsea win the Cup Winners' Cup against Stuttgart in 1998 and later that year scored the winning goal as the West Londoners overcame Real Madrid to lift the UEFA Super Cup.

Poyet scored at least 10 goals in each of the three seasons that followed, but in the summer of 2001 he was deemed surplus to requirements by manager Claudio Ranieri. A number of teams were linked with the Montevideo-born player, with Tottenham Hotspur eventually winning the race for a fee of £2.2m.

Poyet's spell at White Hart Lane was largely blighted by injuries and he ended up retiring in 2004, which opened up a route into coaching. He worked alongside his former Chelsea teammate Dennis Wise at Swindon Town and Leeds United, before taking up the role of assistant manager at Spurs.

In 2009 he went solo when he filled the hotseat at Brighton & Hove Albion, where he spent four years. Now, Poyet is back in the Premier League as manager of Sunderland.

Didier Drogba poses with the Champions League trophy on May 19, 2012.
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