Didier Drogba believes Chelsea must keep hold of John Terry and Frank Lampard in order to ensure their long-term success.
Drogba formed the core of the most successful squad in Chelsea's history alongside the likes of Terry and Lampard, helping the Blues win an unprecedented three Premier League titles, four FA Cups and a Champions League trophy during an eight-year spell following Roman Abramovich's purchase of the club in 2003.
However Chelsea appear set on dissembling that group with one eye on the future - Drogba departed for China last summer, while Frank Lampard's future is still uncertain with his contract expiring in the summer despite the fact he is on the verge of becoming the club's all-time record scorer.
Terry's deal expires in 2014 while Ashley Cole, another stalwart of the Abramovich years, recently signed a one-year extension which will also keep him at Stamford Bridge until 2014.
The likes of Nicolas Anelka, Michael Essien and Solomon Kalou have all left either on loan or permanently in the past 12 months.
But Drogba says Chelsea must value their elder statesmen in a way similar to Manchester United, who have retained the services of Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs well into their thirties, if they are to ensure a smooth changing of the guard.
"When we speak about important players who have made history for a club, I think of Ryan Giggs at Manchester United or Paolo Maldini at AC Milan," he told the Sun.
“Of course, there will be new, young talent to keep improving the club but players like John and Frank should stay to share their passion for the club and the mentality of the club to these young players.
“They should stay. What Frank is doing now is unbelievable “To be two goals from being Chelsea’s all-time top scorer is remarkable. He has to stay.”
Drogba will feature for new club Galatasaray against Real Madrid in the Champions League quarter-finals tonight, less than a year on from scoring the winning penalty that helped Chelsea claim their first ever European crown.
That proved to be his last act for the west London club, and while the Ivorian admits the time has come for Chelsea's veterans to pass on the torch, he maintains older players still have their use in a squad challenging at the top.
"There has been change at Chelsea. Players have left — me, Michael Essien, Jose Bosingwa and Claude Makelele and Florent Malouda is not playing," the 35-year-old explained.
“These were important players for the team. They have brought in a lot of new, young players who do not know the league so there will be up and downs.
What we had was unique but it is like when you learn to ride a bike. Even if you do not do it for years, when you find a new bike you don’t forget.
“All the players who were there at that time, we still have that winning mentality. It is something you do not lose.
“It is something that can come back again but with Frank and John staying it makes it easier — and you might win something more as well.”
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