With Chelsea set to round off pre-season preparations in Germany this weekend, we take a look at the handful of stars from the country who have played for the Blues in recent years.
Spotted when he was a youth player at Union Berlin, Robert Huth joined Chelsea in 2001 and made his professional debut under Claudio Ranieri as a 17-year-old in our final game of the 2001/02 season against Aston Villa.
A 1.91m centre-back with a powerful shot, Huth won Chelsea’s Young Player of the Year award for three straight years from 2003 to 2005 and earned two Premier League winners’ medals in 2004/05 and 2005/06 before he joined Middlesbrough after 62 games for the Blues.
The German went on to spend his entire club career in England, moving to Stoke City in 2009 before joining Leicester City in 2015 and playing a big role in the Foxes’ surprise Premier League title in 2015/16.
Huth left Stamford Bridge in the summer of 2006 just as another big German player arrived at the club.
Michael Ballack was the captain and talisman of the German national team when he joined Chelsea on a free transfer from Bayern Munich, and he became an influential figure in midfield for the Blues over four seasons as we won both domestic cups in 2007, reached the Champions League final a year later and claimed the FA Cup in 2009.
He netted 26 goals in 167 games for the Blues and made his final appearance in the 2010 FA Cup final against Portsmouth as we secured the Premier League and FA Cup Double for the first time in club history.
A former Borussia Monchengladbach player, Marko Marin looked set for big things when the speedy and skilful attacking midfielder was signed by Chelsea from Werder Bremen in the summer of 2012.
Unfortunately, Marin suffered a hamstring injury during pre-season and was unable to establish himself in the first team during the 2012/13 campaign, making only 16 appearances for the Blues and scorin his lone goal for the club in a 4-1 win over Wigan.
He spent the next three seasons on loan at clubs in Spain, Italy, Belgium and Turkey before joining Greek giants Olympiacos on a permanent basis in 2016.
Signed from Bayer Leverkusen, Andre Schurrle enjoyed a fine debut season with the Blues in 2013/14 as he scored nine goals including a hat-trick against Fulham in the west London derby and a crucial strike in our comeback win against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League quarter-finals.
Schurrle went on to set up Mario Gotze’s winner for Germany in the 2014 World Cup final before returning to Chelsea and netting a lovely goal in our 3-1 win over Burnley in our opening match of the 2014/15 season.
However, he struggled for form in his second campaign with the club and moved back to Germany to join Wolfsburg midway through the season, although he had played enough games for the Blues to earn a Premier League winners’ medal.
Antonio Rudiger has been a firm favourite with Chelsea fans since the tall and athletic centre-back joined the Blues from Roma in the summer of 2017.
With his tough tackling approach and commanding presence in the air, the 26-year-old has been a mainstay in the Blues defence over the past two seasons while also contributing some big goals including a powerful header in a 2-2 draw with Manchester United last season.
Rudiger missed the final month of the 2018/19 season after suffering a knee injury which required surgery and Blues supporters will be hoping he will soon return to action and resume his role in the heart of our defence.