Would Didier Drogba still have something to offer at Aston Villa amidst links?
New Aston Villa boss Roberto Di Matteo needs no reminding that his side required reinforcements this summer, after a staggeringly poor 2015/16 season in the Premier League which saw them score a mere 27 goals in their 38 games- the lowest in the division- and ship a shocking 76 goals.
In order to remedy last season’s lack of firepower, Di Matteo has already recruited a prolific forward at Championship level in Fulham’s Scottish international forward Ross McCormack, but after Villa chairman Tony Xia outed his ambition to bring in another top class striker, the social media world went into meltdown with former Chelsea player Didier Drogba one of the names to be linked with the club.
Come on.It's not the China Villa club(maybe future will) https://t.co/rEn0gVso7W
— Dr. Tony Xia (@Dr_TonyXia) August 22, 2016
Although the rumours have since cooled, Tony Xia himself taking to Twitter to play down speculation, there is no denying anyway that any acquisition of the forward, now at MLS club Montreal Impact, would be a real coup for the Birmingham outfit or that it should deter Villa from making an audacious approach for the fomer Ivory Coast international before the transfer window closes anyway. Particularly after current Villa boss Di Matteo worked alongside the Chelsea legend to great effect in 2012, winning the FA Cup and more famously the Champions League, Drogba himself scoring the goal which forced extra-time and then the winning penalty which secured Chelsea their first Champions League crown by downing Bayern Munich in their very own Allianz Arena.
There is no doubt that even at the age of 38, he would still have much to offer in the way of experience and goals, particularly at Championship level, after his previous exploits in English football. After first attracting the attention of former Chelsea boss José Mourinho after scoring 18 goals in 30 appearances for Ligue 1 side Olympique de Marseille, the Portuguese brought the Ivorian to Stamford Bridge for a £24million fee in the summer of 2004. He remained there until the summer of 2012, shortly after Chelsea’s Champions League triumph, and helped Chelsea win two consecutive Premier League titles and a League Cup in his first two years at the club, to help Chelsea become only the second club to win back-to-back titles in the Premier League era.
His hunger for trophies however didn’t end there, scoring a personal best of 33 goals in all competitions to win the Golden Boot in his third season at the club (2006/07) in which the Blues secured a FA and League Cup double, he went on to help Chelsea to a third Premier League title in 2010- a season in which he also took home the Golden Boot under Carlo Ancelotti- three more FA Cups and two FA Community Shield triumphs under seven different managers before winning the club’s crowning glory of the UEFA Champions League title of 2011/12 in Munich under the tutelage of Di Matteo, scoring a headed equaliser in the latter stages of the game to send the game to extra-time after Thomas Muller had put opponents Bayern ahead on their home turf. The match would go to penalties, with Drogba stepping up to take Chelsea’s fifth spot-kick, and he duly sent Manuel Neuer the wrong way to complete Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich’s long drawn-out mission of securing the trophy, and propel the club to their finest hour in football history. Drogba received the Official Man of the Match award following the game.
He would return to Chelsea after spells at Shanghai Shenhua and Galatasaray, after winning three trophies in Turkey including a Turkish Super Lig title in his first season in Istanbul, to play once more under manager Jose Mourinho in his second spell at Stamford Bridge.
The duo would win one more Premier League title together, but Drogba featured in far more of a peripheral role than during his first spell with the club.
Drogba’s personal accolades have also been phenomenal. He won the award for the league’s assist leader for 2205/06, his second season in the Premier League where Chelsea retained the title, took home a total of two Premier League Golden Boots for the 2006/07 and 2009/10 seasons, and made it into the PFA Team of the Year for the same two seasons. He surprisingly only managed one Chelsea Player of the Year award, when the club won the title under Carlo Ancelotti in 2010, having scored 29 Premier League goals.
Despite never winning a title with his country, who cut the figure of nearly men in several Africa Cup of Nations tournaments, Drogba made it into the Cup of Nations Team of the Tournament on three occasions, winning Ivorian Player of the Year three times and African Footballer of the Year twice.
After his second spell at Chelsea, where he managed seven goals in 14 outings, he departed for Montreal Impact, leaving Chelsea a hero after his exploits in both spells at the club having become the fourth all-time top scorer in the Premier League with 163 goals, scored the most league goals in one Premier League season with his 29 in Chelsea’s 2009/10 title triumph, and secured club records of the most goals scored in FA Cup and League Cup finals with four in each tournament, scored a total of nine goals in all cup finals for Chelsea and scored the most goals in the Champions League for any Blues player, with 36. He also registered 46 international goals whilst he was a Chelsea player, before his retirement from international duties in 2014.
He has already scored 19 MLS goals in 25 appearances as of the 14th August for Montreal Impact since his arrival in Canada, a level which is akin to that of the Championship, and Drogba’s sheer experience, goalscoring pedigree and winning mentality is exactly the tonic that Villa needs after suffering relegation last season. A winning, mentally strong mentality is necessary if the Villans are to make an immediate return to the Championship, and Drogba would provide all of those aspect in abundance, provide a great partner for McCormack and not to mention the most important thing: goals.
Just come out of training at @impactmontreal & a million messages & trending on Twitter saying I was in Birmingham today 😳😳
— Didier Drogba (@didierdrogba) August 22, 2016
Albeit Drogba himself as well as Xia both took to Twitter to cool speculation quickly, it may seem an audacious move for Villa to make for all parties, but for a club of Villa’s standing they could do better than not enquiring about Drogba’s services. Even if the Ivorian wouldn’t arrive in the West Midlands, it would stamp a huge marker of Villa’s ambition on the Championship, and financially considering the club’s vast cash reserves from parachute payments, it is not necessarily a deal that they couldn’t afford.
So although there may not be any concrete interest to go off as of yet, this may have thrown a very interesting question into the mind of manager Roberto Di Matteo and it will be interesting to see if anything more comes of this latest development at Villa Park.
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