Chelsea ready to let Champions League hero Didier Drogba leave
Chelsea and Didier Drogba will announce the striker's departure in the next few days, with both sides reconciled to the fact that a parting of the ways after Saturday's victorious Champions League final is now inevitable.
Drogba's role in the club's win on penalties over Bayern Munich did fuel speculation that he might stay, but in reality the decision was made some time ago that he would not sign a new contract when his existing deal runs out. The club do not see the logic of giving the Ivorian the two-year deal he wants and being a free agent will be lucrative for Drogba, with the possibility of following Nicolas Anelka to the Chinese super league.
There were quotes attributed to Drogba last night to the effect that he was prepared for a "leap into the unknown" but the player denied, through the club, that they were his words. In the same report, from France Football magazine, it was claimed that Drogba had told his Chelsea team-mates that he was leaving the club during their open-top bus tour of west London on Sunday afternoon.
Nevertheless, a formal announcement is expected in the next few days, with the parting on amicable terms. After eight years with Chelsea there could hardly have been a more remarkable finale to his time than the winning penalty in the Champions League final.
Drogba's most likely option is Shanghai Shenhua, although that is by no means certain. The Chinese club have emerged as one of the biggest payers in world football, signing Anelka from Chelsea in January on a two-year deal worth £220,000 a week, and they have long been the favourites to sign his former team-mate.
While the Chinese super league club's capacity to pay is not in doubt, they are struggling this season in 12th position in a 16-team league after 11 games.
Yesterday, Anelka expressed his first doubts about staying there, having been appointed "player coach" after the dismissal of the manager, Jean Tigana. In effect, he is working under Jean-Florent Ikwange, the acting head coach.
Anelka's comments, translated from Chinese, suggested frustration at club politics: "If there is still no one to support me and [they] continue to play little tricks behind my back, then I will quickly decide whether or not to retire. This will be decided on what happens in the next few weeks."
The decision on Roberto Di Matteo's future is unlikely to be made by the end of the week. The interim Chelsea manager, having delivered the Champions League and the FA Cup, is playing at the BMW PGA Championship pro-am golf event at Wentworth tomorrow.
The Chelsea chief executive, Ron Gourlay, said: "Now we have to sit down over the next week or two, or however long it takes, because we've got to do what is right for the football club."
Latest in Sport
Paul Scholes: Manchester United vs Liverpool - I don't understand why Brendan Rodgers was not more attacking against Basel
Jesus Christ plays for Chelsea - that's what one in five children thinks
Transfer Talk: Nemanja Vidic to return to Manchester United; Hazard to leave Chelsea; Sunderland want Radamel Falcao
Frank Warren column: Don't bet on Amir Khan landing pay day against Floyd Mayweather
Manchester United transfer news: Kevin Strootman move edges closer
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food