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Tuesday 21 May 2013

On this day: Gallas swaps Marseille for Chelsea

Looking back at Premier League history, we recall a France U21 defender landing at Stamford Bridge

  • William Gallas holds off QPR's Leroy Griffiths in a first pre-season match for Chelsea

Premierleague.com rifles through the annals of the Barclays Premier League to find significant events.

On this day: 21 May 2001 William Gallas joins Chelsea

William Gallas arrived as Claudio Ranieri's first summer signing as Chelsea manager ahead of his first full season in charge of the Blues.

"He is rated as one of the top defenders in France and can play anywhere across the back"
Colin Hutchinson

The Italian tactician had replaced Gianluca Vialli five games into the previous campaign and Gallas's £6.2m signing from Olympique Marseille constituted the first stage of a summer rebuilding plan that included the arrivals of Frank Lampard and Emmanuel Petit from West Ham United and Barcelona respectively.

Gallas, who signed a five-year deal with the London club, had yet to win the first of his 84 caps for France but was an Under-21 regular and had come highly recommended by Chelsea's Marcel Desailly and Didier Deschamps.

"The club had been after me from last season but at that stage [Marseille's] management view was that they couldn't let me go," Gallas told the club's website. "Chelsea knew how to be patient, which proves how much they really wanted me."

The 23-year-old would go on to establish a formidable central-defensive partnership with Desailly and then John Terry, helping the club keep 16 consecutive clean sheets when deployed alongside the Englishman.

"He is rated as one of the top defenders in France and can play anywhere across the back," said Chelsea's managing director Colin Hutchinson of a player who would prove him right by filling in at left-back for long stretches of his five seasons at Stamford Bridge.

In his first Barclays Premier League campaign Gallas helped the Blues finish in sixth place, as they had done the previous season, but with the fourth-best defensive record in the League.

Things would only get better for the Frenchman at Stamford Bridge as he would go on to win two Barclays Premier League titles and become an established international defender.

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Key Points

  • Premierleague.com looks back through the annals of history of the competition
  • A memorable event or match from each day of the year will be selected
  • We remember when William Gallas joined the Barclays Premier League from French football