Chelsea regained the Premier League title on Sunday as they overcame Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge. Didier Drogba led the line and played well as he linked the play allowing the midfielders to get time on the ball in the final third.
I wrote an article about a year ago on whether Chelsea should re-sign Drogba and concluded that his experience would add a lot to the squad, while he was still able to score a few goals. He has turned out to be a smart piece of business, adding some depth to the squad and his prior experience at Stamford Bridge allowed him to slot back into the squad seamlessly. However his contract is up and Jose Mourinho must now decide if Drogba is worth retaining or not.
A year has passed, and the Ivorian is now 37. There are very few strikers who still play football at the top level over 35, with Antonio di Natale and Francesco Totti notable exceptions. Chelsea have a lot of experience throughout their squad and may opt to freshen it up this summer, bringing in a lot of younger players, while Patrick Bamford may be considered ready to play a part in the first team after several loan spells. It may be more of a hindrance having Drogba around, as Mourinho will favour him over the likes of Bamford.
Drogba has featured in 27 league games, starting only 7, and has contributed four goals and one assist. At times he has offered a different option from the bench and contributed in the first half of the season. However in the second half of the season, he started to look his age, and was dominated by centre-backs, which has never happened to Drogba before in a Chelsea shirt.
He was very poor against Arsenal and Manchester United recently, which used to be the matches in which the striker played his best football. His record against Arsenal in his first spell at the club was incredible, but this time his age showed and he didn’t look like he belonged in matches such as these anymore. It is sad to see a Premier League legend be a passenger in the big matches. The Ivorian used to be dependable when it came to holding up the ball, yet this season he has easily been pushed off it.
I think that the time has come for Drogba to say goodbye to Stamford Bridge and the Premier League once and for all. As an ambitious player, he will always want to make an impact on matches, but his body isn’t letting him do it as much now and the pace of the Premier League might just be too much. After winning the league title, it is a perfect time to walk away from Chelsea and move onto the MLS, which is where many think the striker will go next.
It is also the right time for Chelsea. Last summer, they lost Frank Lampard and the return of Drogba was a symbol of the last Mourinho era. However, the current side is developing into one which could surpass the Chelsea sides of old and the club must move on some of the older guard like Petr Cech and Drogba. They have been great servants for the Blues, but there is a new generation now and the club must embrace that.