Is Didier Drogba the answer to Chicago Fire’s goalscoring problems?
It is safe to say Didier Drogba will be playing football somewhere in the coming weeks. Whether he is playing his football in Major League Soccer is still debatable.
The Ivorian is in talks with MLS sides Chicago Fire and Montreal Impact, though other teams are reportedly chasing his signature as well. Along with negotiating with the Fire and Impact, the 37-year-old is still keeping his options open further a field; and this week he was linked with a move to Serie A side Inter as well as an unnamed Qatari team.
There are two sides to signing Drogba if you are the Chicago Fire and on Tuesday the club showed their eagerness to add the ex-Marseille man by offering an improved deal.
ESPN FC had reported the Fire offered Drogba an 18-month contract worth $2.5 million. That has now been sweetened, though the exact numbers have not been made public.
Firstly, the positives of a Drogba deal are goals. At least that is what everyone will expect from the Ivorian.
The Fire have scored the fewest number of goals in the Eastern Conference this term (20) and second fewest in MLS overall. The team currently have the lowest points total in the league and sit dead last in MLS as a whole. In addition, they’ve obtained a paltry three points away from home, drawing three times. Simply put, goals are needed if the Fire want out of the MLS cellar.
The club currently have three designated players in David Accam, Kennedy Igboanaike and Shaun Maloney, therefore, the club would need to use the new Target Allocation Money rule to pay down the salary of one of the three existing designated players. But like LA Galaxy and Giovani Dos Santos, this can be done.
Those three players haven’t exactly set the town alight and Chicago Technical Director Brian Bliss needs to address several areas in building this team into more than a sixth place finisher in the east – with manager being one of them.
Accam has played better of late, scoring four of his five goals in the Fire’s last six games. Overall, the Fire’s starting XI does lack quality, and watching former striker Quincy Amarikwa score twice last week for San Jose Earthquakes, must have made Chicago faithful sick to their stomachs.
Drogba can certainly help Accam, allowing the Ghanaian to play off of him. Drogba would be the target man the Fire lack as Frank Yallop’s team love to play down the wings, crossing the ball with every chance they get. Always known for his bullish, aerial play, Drogba would be well-suited for the Fire’s style.
Looking at the other side of the coin, an 18-month contract will see Drogba at Toyota Park until he’s at least 38. His body did hold up in the English Premier League during 2014/15 season, playing 28 games and notching four goals. Yet looking deeper, Drogba was used as a substitute 20 of those times, only racking up 856 minutes of playing time according to Whoscored.com.
Theoretically, Drogba’s body should hold up for 18 months. Yet, with the league’s physical play and long distance travel schedule, an injury breakdown isn’t out of the realms of possibility. Though playing once or occasionally twice a week will allow his body to rest.
Is Drogba a good designated player signing? As far as being a big name yes. In terms of goals, he should score his fair share; but that also depends on the service he is provided from teammates.
Right now, no other big named strikers are floating around, but going the route of the Colorado Rapids and signing a player like Kevin Doyle, maybe more practical for Chicago.
With the Fire sitting a mere six points from the last playoff place in the Eastern Conference, the team aren’t out of the hunt for the postseason. Signing a player of Drogba’s capabilities can make a sudden impact. But anything more than a playoff spot is wishful thinking in 2015.
Follow Drew Farmer on Twitter @Calciofarmer. Drew Farmer is a Manchester, England-based journalist/blogger that writes for World Soccer Talk. Drew has contributed to Radio Yorkshire, Forza Italian Football, Bleacher Report, MLSGB and Soccerly. Originally from southwest Missouri, Drew covers Italy’s Serie A, British football and the USA’s Major League