Drogba still one of Europe's finest

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Following a famous night at Stamford Bridge in which Chelsea overcame Napoli to secure a place in the last eight of the Champions League, Didier Drogba told French television he wants to stay with the club.

“My future at Chelsea? I hope to go on as long as possible," Drogba said when speaking to Canal+. "I am not master of my own fate.

“I'm happy at Chelsea and I want to go on experiencing such moments and joy. I hope there will be a lot more.”

There is, however, still a sense that Drogba will leave west London at the end of the season, with the experienced Ivorian's contract set to expire during the summer.

One does not doubt Drogba's loyalty in the slightest but, with Shanghai Shenua set to offer the 34-year-old one final substantial payday, will he be able to resist their overtures?

Shanghai, for their part, seem convinced that they will sign Drogba - even though he has expressed a desire to stay with Chelsea - and Nicolas Anelka has urged his former teammate to come and join him in China.

Naturally, Drogba's career at Chelsea will have to come to an end eventually, but it will be a grave shame indeed if he was allowed to walk away from Stamford Bridge at the end of the season.

Against Napoli last night, Drogba demonstrated how much he still has to offer at the highest level - delivering one of his finest ever performances in the blue of Chelsea.

Much of the pre-match praise had been afforded to Napoli's potent forward duo of Edinson Cavani and Ezequiel Lavezzi but, while they failed to make an impact of note on the night, Drogba was quite magnificent at the opposite end.

Having celebrated his 34th birthday only three days previous, Drogba produced a performance reminiscent of himself during his Chelsea pomp, and outlined how vitally important he is to the club.

Cavani has been touted as an eventual successor to Drogba, but the latter's qualities still far outweigh those of the young Uruguayan striker.

This is far from a slight on the talents of Cavani as, when Drogba performs like he did on Wednesday evening, there is no player better in that role than he.

Drogba's influence against Napoli was abundantly clear, having opened the scoring in the first-half and provided the assist for Branislav Ivanovic's extra time winner.

But it was his ability to hold the ball up in the latter stages and provide Chelsea with the outlet and thrust they needed as full-time approached that deserves to be afforded almost equal value.

Detractors of the the Ivory Coast international will always point towards his theatrics - and the way he collapsed under a challenge from Salvatore Aronica utterly pathetic.

His career has often been tarnished somewhat by deliberate dalliances with deceit, but one can never doubt his commitment, and such histrionics are only born from an intense desire to help his team to victory.

And help them to victory he did in a way that left one feeling in awe and slightly melancholic about the wonderful European nights Drogba has been a part of in almost eight years with Chelsea.

There may well be more of those on the horizon, and lifting the Champions League trophy this season would be quite a way to end a fabulous career with Chelsea, and may temper any decision regarding his future.

One can only hope, however, that when Chelsea bow out of the competition this season, Drogba will be bidding the competition farewell for another season - and not goodbye for eternity.

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Didier Drogba
Premier League
UEFA Champions League

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