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The £24M Cheat’s Time Is Up

There’s doubt that the signing of Didier Drogba has been a fantastic one for Chelsea. Signed from Marseille for £24million in 2004, Drogba has gone on to score almost 150 goals for the club.

He has terrorised Premier League defences with his aerial ability and strength, and been prolific in the Champions League.

Of course, it’s not all been positive. Often accused of play-acting, Drogba has never been shy in going to ground. Fouls or aggressive challenges against him will result in Drogba screaming in apparent agony, and he will often limp off, seemingly unable to continue, only to return moments later. And when things aren’t going Chelsea’s way, his body language can be extremely negative and will do the team more harm than good.

His discipline has also been a problem too, particularly in the Champions League. He was infamously sent off in the 2008 Champions League final, after slapping Nemanja Vidic. His antics after Chelsea’s controversial match against Barcelona at Stamford Bridge, when he screamed ‘It’s a disgrace!’ down a camera lens, saw UEFA suspend him for six games. On appeal the ban was reduced to 1 game, but Drogba was again sent off in the Champions League in 2010, as Chelsea were knocked out by Jose Mourinho’s Inter Milan.

But the last 18 months or so have not gone well for Drogba. On the last day of the 2009-10 season, Drogba was tied with Wayne Rooney in the race for the Premier League’s Golden Boot award. Both players had scored 26 league goals, with Chelsea facing Wigan at home, and Manchester United facing Stoke at Old Trafford. More importantly, the league title was on the line, with any Chelsea win enough to give them the title. When Chelsea were awarded a penalty in the first half, regular taker Frank Lampard scored to give Chelsea a 2-0 lead. But Drogba wasn’t happy, and pouted as his team-mates celebrated. In the end, Chelsea won 8-0, and Drogba scored a hat-trick. With Rooney failing to score, he did indeed win the Golden Boot.

Chelsea would ultimately win their first ever double in Carlo Ancelotti’s first season in charge, adding the FA Cup to the Premier League title. But Ancelotti’s second season was less successful. Early exits from the League Cup and FA Cup, along with a horrific run of league form in the middle of the season and defeat by Manchester United in the Champions League lead to Carlo Ancelotti being sacked just hours after the last game of the season. And it was a poor season for Drogba too. A bout of malaria disrupted his season, and his form suffered, scoring just 13 goals all season, after 37 goals the season before.

Now 33 and in the last year of his contract, Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas has suggested that he expects Drogba to sign a new deal sooner rather than later. But it seems like an odd decision. Drogba’s recent form has been poor, and he was unusually quiet in Chelsea’s 3-1 win over Everton. Chelsea’s other striking options seem to point towards Drogba featuring less too. Towards the end of the transfer window, Chelsea completed a deal to bring Belgian wonderkid Romelu Lukaku to Stamford Bridge. Already touted as the ‘new Drogba’, the18 year old scored 41 goals in 97 appearances for Anderlecht before coming to England. He joins Drogba in a squad that also features Nicolas Anelka (set to leave next summer), Daniel Sturridge and Fernando Torres.

Having joined Chelsea in the summer of 2009, Sturridge was on the fringes of the first team squad before joining Bolton on loan in January. He scored 8 goals in 12 appearances for Bolton, and has continued that form with 4 goals for Chelsea this season. Torres has started to show glimpses of his Liverpool form, and having cost the club £50million, he seems likely to be first choice more often than not.

So where does that leave Drogba? He’s spoken in the past of wanting to return to Marseille, and has even been linked with an unlikely move to Arsenal. If he signed a new contract, he could still contribute for Chelsea but would likely feature less often than in the past. As he approaches his 34th birthday, it may be time for Drogba and Chelsea to part ways.

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Article title: The £24M Cheat’s Time Is Up

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