Departing Drogba backs Torres to fill the void


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The Independent Online

Didier Drogba announced his departure from Chelsea yesterday after eight years and 157 goals, and the Ivorian striker said he had faith that Fernando Torres, pictured, would finally step up and fill the void he is leaving.

The 34-year-old said that he had not yet decided where he would play next season – he ruled out signing for another Premier League club – but said that a move to China's Super League or Major League Soccer in America were options. Having scored the winning penalty in the Champions League final on Saturday, Drogba said he could only have left Chelsea having won the one trophy that had eluded the club over the last nine years, since they were bought by Roman Abramovich.

The problem for Chelsea will be replacing the man who has established himself as arguably the club's greatest striker, albeit fourth in the all-time goalscorers' list. Despite Torres' struggles since joining from Liverpool in January last year, Drogba said that the Spain international would succeed.

"Everybody knows Fernando is a very good player, an international player," he said. "He's been through difficult moments here. It happens to everyone. The good thing is he has our support.

"My first few seasons were very difficult. It's not easy to play for Chelsea. Chelsea are in good hands with Fernando. Of course, we will need new strikers but Torres will do the job."

Drogba said he felt so strongly about winning the Champions League with Chelsea that, despite his contract being due to run out at the end of next month, he would have stayed another season had the club not won in Munich. "That was my challenge, what I wanted to achieve," he said. "It is not based on money, as some people claimed. I have always been happy with what I have here with contracts.

"I think I could have stayed as long as I was performing and as long as the club wanted me."

Drogba will play in Ivory Coast's international games this month before making a decision on his future. "I want a new challenge. I have done everything here, everything, and I was lucky to score in a lot of cup finals, and in the last one as well. The boss [Roman Abramovich] said that he understood my feelings, he respected my choice and I told him that I would be a Chelsea player for ever. We spoke for the last few days and we keep talking again because he's a good man, a very good man because he gave me everything."