Chelsea Football Club today bids farewell to Yossi Benayoun, who leaves Stamford Bridge after three years’ service.
Benayoun signed for the Blues in the summer of 2010 following a three-year spell at Liverpool, brought in by then manager Carlo Ancelotti to bolster our attacking options following the departure of Joe Cole.
The Israeli made his Chelsea debut in a 3-1 FA Community Shield defeat to Manchester United at Wembley, replacing Florent Malouda with 18 minutes remaining.
He made his Premier League debut as a substitute for Frank Lampard on the opening day of the 2010/11 season during a 6-0 win over West Bromwich Albion, and scored his first goal for the club a week later, coming off the bench to put the seal on another 6-0 victory, this time away at Wigan Athletic.
Having started his Chelsea career with much promise, however, Benayoun was diagnosed as needing surgery on an Achilles injury in October, an injury which curtailed his involvement for much of the campaign.
He missed almost seven months, making his comeback as a second-half substitute in a 1-0 home win over Wigan. His impact was almost instant, showing great technique minutes after coming on to release Fernando Torres, whose shot was well saved.
Benayoun reported for the 2011/12 season fully fit, with the team now under the guidance of Andre Villas-Boas, featuring as a late substitute in our opening-day stalemate at Stoke City. He then joined Arsenal on loan for the rest of the season.
After struggling to establish himself early on at the Emirates, he enjoyed a solid second half of the season, and ended his time in north London having made 25 appearances and scoring some crucial goals.
The 2012/13 season also began on loan, this time at former club West Ham United, but injury limited his involvement, ensuring he headed back to Stamford Bridge in December having made only six appearances for Sam Allardyce’s side.
Benayoun was named as a Chelsea substitute for our 2-2 FA Cup draw at Brentford in late January, before making his first appearance for the club in over a year as a late substitute for Juan Mata in the 2-2 draw against Reading.
Rafael Benitez, whom Benayoun had worked under at Liverpool, handed him a first start of the season in our FA Cup fifth round tie at Middlesbrough in February, with the winger playing just under an hour before being replaced by Eden Hazard in a 2-0 win at the Riverside Stadium.
As the season drew to a close, he was involved mainly from the bench, and with such a busy fixture list to navigate, he featured predominantly in the Europa League as Benitez rotated the side.
Benayoun was an unused sub in the Europa League final, and leaves Stamford Bridge having made 23 appearances and scored one goal.
Everybody at Chelsea Football Club would like to express our thanks to Yossi for his service and wish him the very best of luck for the future.