Drogba to leave unless Chelsea improve offer
Didier Drogba remains confident he can play at the highest level for at least two more years, though the reluctance of Chelsea's hierarchy to hand the Ivorian anything more than a 12-month extension to his contract is likely to mean the 33-year-old will be forced to leave the club this summer if he is to do so.
The striker's crucial double strike against Valencia took his tally to four goals in his last four games after a difficult start to the season in which he underwent surgery on his elbow, was sidelined by a head injury and missed three games for his dismissal in Andre Villas-Boas' side's heated defeat by Queens Park Rangers in the west London derby.
The former Marseilles forward's return to form, capped against the Spanish team on Tuesday night, seemed to secure his place as the Portuguese's front-line striker ahead of Fernando Torres, but neither Villas-Boas – who remains conscious of the need to reduce his squad's average age – nor the club's hierarchy, aware that Chelsea's wage bill must be reduced if they are to comply with Uefa's looming Financial Fair Play regulations, are as yet prepared to offer him the two-year deal he craves. With Drogba not prepared to contemplate the compromise of a short-term offer, the impasse over his contract is yet to be bridged. "I hope I have got at least a couple of years left in me," said the striker. "I started late. I was 25 when I played my first Champions League games. I feel happy, I feel good on the pitch, I really enjoy my football and when we are winning like [this] I am really delighted.
"I am not yet 100 per cent fit. Everyone has seen that I have lost a lot of goals [compared to my usual return] and this is something I hope my fitness will help me to improve. When I get to 100 per cent there are a few mistakes I will try to rectify. Injuries have not helped this season, the knock on the head, the red card, the surgery. They didn't help me to get my fitness. Now I'm having more games and it's going to come back. I hope it will come quickly, but it is going to come back."
Drogba's agent, Thierno Seydi, has previously insisted that his client will use a potential free transfer to sign for whichever club "will pay him the most money". A number of sides in Russia, the United Arab Emirates and Major League Soccer – including David Beckham's alma mater, Los Angeles Galaxy – are likely to match his demands, while the striker would no doubt be tempted by the prospect of a return to Marseilles, the club where he made his name. Unsurprisingly, Harry Redknapp has confessed that he, too, would welcome the chance to take Drogba to Tottenham. No move, though, will materialise in January.
Drogba's clubmate Nicolas Anelka, meanwhile, is believed to have agreed terms with the ambitious Chinese side Shanghai Shenhua after handing in a transfer request. The former French international, along with the Brazilian defender Alex – a £2m target for Juventus – has been exiled to train with the youth team by Villas-Boas after the Portuguese suggested the pair's "mindset" was not in line with the rest of his squad. The former Arsenal, Real Madrid and Liverpool striker would stand to become one of the best-paid players in the world if he moves to the cash-rich Chinese Premier League, where the unheralded Argentine Dario Conca was last year handed a salary bettered only by Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo to join Ghuangzhou Evergrande.
Latest in Sport
Radamel Falcao: 'Changes are not easy, but there are times when you have to'
Female BBC presenter receives offensive and sexist letter after she criticised level of women's sport given TV coverage and sponsorship
Premier League 2015/16 kits: Confirmed and rumoured strips from Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea and others
West Brom vs Arsenal: Aaron Ramsey desperate to be back in the middle for Arsenal title challenge
Arsenal fan asks the Queen for tickets to the FA Cup final - gets a reply from Buckingham Palace
- 1 Crystal meth addict 'gouged out his eyes and ate them' while high on drug, Australian MP claims
- 2 Saudi Arabia 'seeking to head United Nations Human Rights Council'
- 3 Irish people are travelling home from all over the world so they can vote to legalise gay marriage
- 4 Witch doctor arrested after forcing newborn baby to walk in Indian village
- 5 Arsenal fan asks the Queen for tickets to the FA Cup final - gets a reply from Buckingham Palace
As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
Scotland may have to leave the EU even if it votes to stay in, David Cameron confirms
Report finds that Britain's wages are the most unequal in Europe
Almost a third of school pupils believe 'Muslims are taking over our country', study claims
The day that Britain resigned as a global power
Gay marriage 'Bert and Ernie' cake bakery found guilty of discrimination in Northern Ireland