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  1. Florent Malouda

    Chelsea career Signed on a three-year contract in the summer of 2007, an undisclosed fee was paid to Lyon for the then 27-year-old French international winger who was one of Jose Mourinho's final purchases for the club. The first year started brightly with an excellently-taken Community Shield goal at Wembley and another strike in the first league game. He won a controversially-awarded penalty for an important point at Anfield and opened his Champions League account at home to Schalke. However a two-month absence in midwinter due to a persistent knee injury took its toll on Florent's form, although he did hit one of the passes of the season for Joe Cole's winner at Goodison Park in the Carling Cup semi-final. Following a grim FA Cup exit at Barnsley there was a month in the wilderness but Avram Grant issued a recall for the Champions League quarter-finals, the then manager frequently choosing the more cautious Malouda rather than Salomon Kalou in European away games. The policy was retained in the Final in Moscow where Florent played the first 92 minutes. He completed his first Chelsea campaign with four goals from 29 starts and nine sub appearances, before Luiz Felipe Scolari arrived in the summer of 2008 announcing he wanted to see the same Malouda at Chelsea he had seen at Lyon, with direct running and a stronger eye for goal. The winger responded with a run of four goals in 10 games before an injury setback at the end of November kept him out until Boxing Day. With his natural left-footedness, Malouda provided balance and width to an emerging three-pronged attack with his friend from earlier playing days in France, Didier Drogba, and Nicolas Anelka. Under Guus Hiddink, Malouda started to show a consistency to his game that had been missing. Assists, running and goals began to become regular facets as he played a key role in FA Cup semi-final success over Arsenal, while in the Champions League semi-final he denied Lionel Messi the space he needed in the Camp Nou to hurt the Blues in Ashley Cole's absence. Unfortunately Chelsea lost out in the second leg in controversial fashion. Back at Wembley it was Florent's cross that set up Drogba's equaliser in the 2009 FA Cup Final against Everton and he and Ashley Cole spent the first half tormenting Tony Hibbert to the degree that the right-back was taken off at the interval. Florent 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. The Frenchman made Carlo Ancelotti's early selections and by the end of the season he had cemented his place in the starting line-up. He was instrumental in a number of historic wins and netted 15 goals throughout an industrious campaign. That was an important measurement of his abilities but just as vital were the assists. Malouda helped set up 12 of Chelsea's League goals, including his cross which Joe Cole back-heeled over the line against Manchester United as we beat out title rivals 2-1 at Old Trafford. He was a versatile member of the team, playing as a midfielder rather than a wide man in a 4-3-3 towards the season's end and he even moved back into the left-back position away against Inter Milan when both Ashley Cole and Yury Zhirkov were unavailable. He ended the 2009/10 season with another FA Cup Final appearance and a winners' medal to add 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 commencement of 2010/11 and a couple of months in, Florent was the Premier League's top scorer. However as important players were lost to injury and illness, and results declined as winter set in, his form suffered too and he scored just one league goal in three months. Although the season ultimately ended trophyless, Florent rediscovered his influence towards to the end and finished the team's league top scorer with a career-best 13 goals and a good total of assists too. The 2011-12 season has seen the Frenchman still very much involved in first-team affairs, with over 30 appearances, although perhaps more frustrating is his limited league starts this campaign. He started the season very much involved in Andre Villas-Boas's side, scoring a late winner in our first home match against West Brom, although that remains the sole Chelsea strike in 2011-12 for last season's top league goalscorer. Pre-Chelsea Lyon was Florent's third club. He began his career in Paris with lower league Châteauroux where he played two seasons before moving up the ladder to Guingamp. In Brittany he teamed up with Didier Drogba and his impressive form over three seasons attracted the attention of Lyon. Arriving at his new club the same season as Michael Essien, the two shared in championship success, Florent staying at the Stade Gerland long enough to win a hat-trick of league titles while starring in Champions League displays. International Florent quickly became a regular for France after making his debut against Poland in November 2004. He was a prominent member of the French team that reached the final of the 2006 World Cup, winning the penalty that Zinedine Zidane converted to open the scoring in a match that they would eventually lose on penalties. He remained a fixture in and around the French XI, and was a key part of the Euro 2008 qualification campaign although, similar to many of his compatriots, he endured a disappointing tournament, losing his place for the final group game as the team ended bottom. He netted the only goal in France's dismal 2010 World Cup campaign, pulling a goal back against South Africa to make it 1-2. In September 2010 he stood in as captain against Belarus due to Patrice Evra's five-game suspension that came out of summer tournament.