With Michy Batshuayi struggling to make an impression, and Diego Costa never more than five minutes away from an almighty, bridge-burning strop, Chelsea are reportedly in the market for a short-term option upfront.
Antonio Conte’s side have opened up an impressive eight-point lead at the Premier League summit, but still have a tough second half of the season to negotiate if they are to be crowned English football champions for the second time in three years, and squad depth will be absolutely crucial in the months ahead.
Didier Drogba, now a free agent after leaving MLS at the end of last year, is on the look out for a new club, and although he has a few miles on the clock – the Ivorian turns 39 in March – he ticks many of the boxes Chelsea need.
For starters, he has a natural affinity with the Stamford Bridge crowd, having spent nine seasons across his two spells in west London. Whilst he’s no longer in peak physical condition, he has retained his natural upper body strength, and still takes a set-piece better than anyone at Chelsea today.
“Everyone knows the special relationship I have with this club and it has always felt like home to me”.
When Mourinho re-signed a 36-year-old Drogba in 2014, he was not expecting the former Marseille man to hit 30 goals a season. In truth, he was signed less for his contribution on the pitch than he was his presence in the dressing room: Drogba is a legendary figure within the game who instantly commands the respect of his teammates.
A fiercely competitive animal like Drogba would never be entirely content with a walk-on role though – in fact, that’s probably part of the reason he ended his stint in the United States. The Ivorian clearly wants to end his career at the highest level possible, and that’s a promising sign for any club looking to bring him in on a short-term deal.
The term “big name player” gets branded around with impunity these days, but Drogba is one of the few players who genuinely performs better against the top sides than he does when playing the smaller ones. With many of the top teams still to visit Stamford Bridge this year, Drogba would be the ideal man to bring on as legs tire in the second half.
True: it wouldn’t be the type of long-term solution the Chelsea hierarchy would favour, but the January transfer window is starting to wind down, and the Blues haven’t addressed the lack of depth along their front-line (in fact, with Oscar departing earlier in the month, they’ve come out of it with less options than they had going in).
Alvaro Morata and Romelu Lukaku are among those players being linked with a move to Stamford Bridge, but both would be pricey acquisitions – particularly as clubs know Chelsea are in the market for another forward.
Costa is apt to throwing his toys out of the pram, but the Spanish international seems to have put a big money Chinese move to the back of his mind for the the time being. That means Chelsea are looking for a viable back-up option rather than someone to take his place as their starting front-man.
Well, Antonio, look no further than Drogba.
Eight random one-off Premier League goalscoring seasons