The future of Didier Drogba remains up for debate, with plenty of clubs understandably keen to take the Ivorian international on a free transfer this summer.
After eight-years of success at Stamford Bridge, the 34-year-old decided to call time on his career with the Blues, winning a glut of trophies in the Roman Abramovich era after his arrival from Marseille in 2004.
Regarded as a gamble of sorts when Jose Mourinho splashed out £24 million on the Ligue 1 sensation, Drogba has certainly repaid the favour with goal galore – notably 100 in the Premier League and 157 in all competitions.
His big-game performances were particularly special, notching nine times in eight finals for the club. Chelsea won seven of those matches, most recently against Liverpool in the FA Cup and Bayern Munich in the Champions League this season.
With an expiring contract and reported one-year offer on the table - instead of two – the former Le Mans starlet decided his time was up in west London, and realistically the Premier League given his commitment to the Blues.
That opens the door to a number of top teams from around the world, and the obvious thought-process would lead you to think that Europe’s big-spenders are well placed to land the striker.
Drogba will command weekly wages in the six-figure category, although this is offset by the fact that any potential suitor won’t need to pay a transfer fee. For a forward of this class, a team could expect to pay upwards of £10 million, taking into account his age.
Reports in The Daily Mail earlier in the week suggested Real Madrid were keen on adding Drogba to their ranks this summer.
The connection is obvious, given that ‘the Special One’ is at the helm of Los Blancos. Mourinho gave the player his big break in England – now he could take him to Spain and the home of the La Liga champions.
Paris Saint-Germain is another club with plenty of money, having yesterday been linked with a £120 million move for Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney.
In Carlo Ancelotti, they have a manager who has also seen first-hand the damage Drogba can do up-front, with the forward instrumental during Chelsea’s double-winning campaign of 2009/10 when the Italian was at the helm.
Russian giants Anzhi Makhachkala have also been linked with a move in the past. Another former Chelsea man – Guus Hiddink – is in charge of the big-spenders and, as you’d expect, he’s a Drogba admirer.
A growing trend for some of the game’s big names is to move further afield though, with America and now China able to offer lucrative contracts for star attractions.
Drogba certainly fits the bill after his heroics at the Allianz Arena, and with Nicolas Anelka now a driving force at Shanghai Shenhua, it appears the Super League outfit have a realistic chance of landing the talismanic veteran.
“The people from the club do the best things to get Drogba here,” said new manager Sergi Batista in his first press conference yesterday.
“I think every coach in the world wants to get Drogba on the team and I hope that everything is OK.”
Friend and former teammate Anelka took over as player-coach at the club in April, after former Fulham boss Jean Tigana was axed as manager.
Having only joined the club in January, the former Arsenal and Manchester City striker quickly rose to prominence at the club, and could now play a key role in securing a second marquee signing for a side renamed in 1993.
The decision will ultimately rest with Drogba, who has nothing left to prove after claiming the first European Cup of his career, four years after being sent-off in a final against Manchester United.
A spell in Spain is something that is noticeably missing from the player’s CV, as is time in Italy, although the later doesn’t appear to be on his radar at the present time.
So what’s it going to be, Didier? A new life in China, or sunny Spain and a few more years in the big leagues under Mourinho?
Few would begrudge him a lucrative spell in Asia, but with so much still to offer, surely another European league holds the real assessment of his legacy in football.
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