Chelsea has confirmed that the club has signed Didier Drogba on a one year deal, bringing him back to Stamford Bridge in a player capacity, and to help him transition into coaching after the 2014/15 season ends.
“Drogba of course needs no introduction,” announced the official club website. A Chelsea legend, Drogba is capable of terrorizing defenses across world soccer, who scored 157 goals for the Londoners, the last of which famously helped them to a Champions League victory in 2012.
Now 36, in the two years away from the Bridge he spent time in China and with Turkish giants Galatasaray before deciding to return to London.
On signing a new deal, Drogba said: “It was an easy decision – I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to work with Jose again. Everyone knows the special relationship I have with this club and it has always felt like home to me.
‘My desire to win is still the same and I look forward to the opportunity to help this team. I am excited for this next chapter of my career.”
Jose Mourinho, who brought out the best of Drogba in his first stint at Chelsea, said: “He’s coming because he’s one of the best strikers in Europe. I know his personality very well and I know if he comes back he’s not protected by history or what he’s done for this club previously. He is coming with the mentality to make more history.”
Mourinho is obviously trying to answer questions of his age and capability of playing at the top, but Drogba’s playing style is perhaps suited to longevity more than many other top striker, including last season’s veteran signing Samuel Eto’o. However, Chelsea currently has four senior strikers playing in their squad, with Drogba joining Fernando Torres, new signing Diego Costa and Romelu Lukaku, who returned from a loan spell at Everton. Unless we see a drastic change of tactics from Mourinho, it is likely only one of these will feature at any time.
The obvious way to view this is that one of these players will be leaving the club. Rumors are rife of Fernando Torres’ departure; perhaps back to Atletico Madrid, whilst Lukaku heading out on loan again isn’t unfeasible. With Andre Schurrle and Mohammed Salah both featuring in the central attacking role last term, what is clear Chelsea is inundated with talent for that position. It raises the question of the necessity of Drogba’s signing, but his influence in the dressing room and helping all of the above names develop their game is unquestionable. Comparisons in playing style can be made between Lukaku and Costa to Drogba, and they can only be set to improve under his wing.
Certainly, we won’t be seeing a return to the days of Drogba starting week-in week-out, but to write this off as a poor transfer would be naive. Unlike last year’s signing of Eto’o, this isn’t another stop gap measure. Rather it’s a player in the twilight of his career who will be willing to take the back seat, and nurture talent under his gaze. Though he may not have a direct impact on the pitch, this could turn out to be a very fruitful acquisition for Chelsea.