Who can replace Didier Drogba?

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Although Didier Drogba has played a significant role in rescuing Chelsea's season following the departure of Andre Villas-Boas, it may not be enough to save him from the chop this summer.

The veteran striker is out of contract at the end of the campaign and, as of yet, neither he nor the club have given a clear indication as to where the 34-year-old will be playing his football next term.

Having been phased out somewhat during the reign of Villas-Boas, Drogba has made the most of the faith restored in him by interim manager Roberto di Matteo, responding with crucial goals against both Tottenham and Barcelona.

But, reports the Daily Express, Chelsea will allow Drogba to leave Stamford Bridge after his contract expires, and he is expected to join former teammate Nicolas Anelka at Shanghai Shenua.

Should Drogba depart west London for pastures new this summer, then it leaves Chelsea devoid of a serious threat up front - something that must be immediately addressed in the transfer window.

But who would be worthy of replacing a player to have plundered 155 goals in the blue of Chelsea? GMF outlines some of the contenders to succeed Drogba at Stamford Bridge…

Edinson Cavani

The Napoli forward is the most sought-after striker in Europe at the present time, owning to another potent season at the Stadio San Paolo.

Cavani has scored 61 times in 89 appearances since his move from Palermo to Naples in the summer of 2010, and demonstrated his goalscoring ability against Chelsea in the Champions League this season.

The Uruguay international scored the second goal during Napoli's 3-1 defeat of the Blues during their last 16 encounter, and also provided both assists for Ezequiel Lavezzi.

Although unable to prevent Napoli succumbing to defeat at Stamford Bridge, the 25-year-old will have undoubtedly caught the eye of Chelsea, and would appear to be Drogba's ideal successor.

However, Cavani remains committed to Napoli, and his employers are reluctant to sell, so Chelsea may have to break their transfer record in order to capture his signature.

Value: £50 million (estimated)

Gonzalo Higuain

Higuian began this season in supreme goalscoring form for Real Madrid, but Karim Benzema has emerged as Jose Mourinho's centre-forward of choice as the campaign has progressed.

The Argentina international has been used from the bench on 21 occasions this term, but has still made an impact when presented with an opportunity; scoring 25 goals in all competitions for Los Blancos.

Should Chelsea have a genuine interest in Higuian, they will surely be confident they can prise him away from the Santiago Bernabeu, given his lack of regular action this season.

Boasting more finesse than Drogba, Higuain would be a worthy replacement for the veteran forward at, at only 24-years-old, fits into Roman Abramovich's recruitment model.

Value: £30 million (estimated)

Radamel Falcao

When Atletico Madrid signed Falcao to replace Sergio Aguero last summer, some questioned whether the Colombian would be able to replicate his goalscoring form with Porto in a more competitive league.

Well, the answer to that question has proved to be an empathic 'yes', with the 26-year-old having found the net on 32 occasions in all competitions for Atleti.

His performance against Athletic Bilbao on Thursday evening showcased his versatility as a goalscorer; finding the net once with a firm header, and also registering a scorching strike from distance.

It was a display almost reminiscent of Drogba in his pomp - blending strength and power with pace and skill, and Falcao would slot in nicely in place of the 34-year-old striker.

Atleti will be, of course, loath to sell Falcao after only one season at the Vicente Calderón, and Chelsea's interest in the in acquiring his services is likely to have waned since the departure of Andre Villas-Boas.

Value: £40 million (estimated)


Like former teammate Falcao, Chelsea's interest in Hulk may perhaps have cooled after Villas-Boas was sacked as Blues manager in early March.

However, there is no questioning his ability and, during the reign of Villas-Boas in Porto, Hulk contributed 36 goals and 21 assists in 53 appearances - an impressive haul indeed.

Although the 25-year-old has failed to reach the heights of last season during the current campaign, he has still managed to score 15 times and register 13 assists for Vítor Pereira's side.

More versatile than Drogba, Hulk would provide the next Chelsea manager with an incisive option through the middle or on the wing, although his gargantuan buyout clause will pose a problem for the Blues.

Value: £89 million (release clause)

…and Fernando Torres

With Uefa's Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations likely to curb the significant spending of the past during the summer transfer window this year, the new Chelsea manager may be unable to splurge exorbitant fees on new recruits.

So, it remains a possibility that the next Blues boss could have to make to with what he already has at his disposal - which will mean expecting Fernando Torres to fill the void left by Drogba.

Although Torres has enjoyed a resurgence of sorts over the past month or so, the likelihood of the 28-year-old being able to sufficiently compensate for Drogba's exit would appear to be slim.

Perhaps more likely would be that the Spaniard will be sold by Roman Abramovich in order to fund a move for any of the above forwards.

Who do you think should replace Didier Drogba at Chelsea? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Didier Drogba
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