MALOUDA MOVES ON
Florent Malouda departs the club today at the end of his contract, after six years as a Chelsea player.
We wish Florent well for the future and thank him for the significant contribution he made to a very successful period in our history.
The international winger, who had played in the World Cup final a year before, arrived in the summer of 2007 from French champions Lyon.
His first year at Chelsea started brightly with an excellently taken Community Shield goal at Wembley against Manchester United, and another strike in his first league game, at home to Birmingham, before opening his Champions League account against Schalke at Stamford Bridge.
A midwinter injury damaged his form however and a spell on the sidelines followed, only for Malouda to be recalled for the run-in to the 2008 Champions League final in Moscow, where he played the first 92 minutes before we were eventually defeated on penalties.
Luiz Felipe Scolari's arrival in the summer of 2008 heralded a bright start to Malouda's second season in London with four goals scored in 10 games, but it was after the Brazilian manager departed that the player started to show his very best form, with Guus Hiddink now in charge.
Assists, positive running and goals began to be regular facets of his game as he played a key role in an FA Cup semi-final success over Arsenal, while in a Champions League semi-final away leg he was important in denying Lionel Messi the space needed to hurt the Blues. Unfortunately Chelsea lost out to Barcelona in the second leg in controversial fashion.
Back at Wembley it was Malouda's cross that set up Didier Drogba's equaliser in the 2009 FA Cup final against Everton, and he was denied his own Wembley goal on a victorious day when a tremendous drive cannoned back off the crossbar.
He continued to go from strength to strength in 2009/10, building on his solid finish to the previous campaign, and was instrumental in a number of record-breaking wins and netted 15 goals throughout an industrious campaign under Carlo Ancelotti.
That was an important measurement of his performance level but just as vital were the assists. Malouda helped set up 12 of Chelsea's league goals, including a cross which Joe Cole back-heeled over the line against Manchester United as we beat our title rivals 2-1 at Old Trafford.
He ended the season with another FA Cup final appearance and a winners' medal to add to the Premier League one handed out a week earlier. He was Chelsea Players' Player of the Year.
Both his and the team's form were carried over to the start of 2010/11 campaign and a couple of months in, Malouda was the Premier League's top scorer. Although the season ultimately ended without a trophy, he rediscovered his influence towards the end and finished the team's league topscorer with a career-best 13 goals and a good total of assists too.
The 2011/12 season would end in European glory. In total that year there were 21 starts for the Frenchman with a further 22 substitute appearances, yielding three goals.
Picked by Roberto Di Matteo as a substitute for the Champions League final in Munich, Malouda replaced Ryan Bertrand on 73 minutes, helping to shackle Arjen Robben and Philipp Lahm as Chelsea secured our first triumph in the competition.
It was Malouda's 229th and final Chelsea appearance, with 45 goals contributed over five seasons.