From the Premier League in England and winning the Champions League, Didier Drogba is taking his talents to the obscure Chinese Super League, in an attempt to fatten up his bank account during his final days (two years?) as a footballer, finally completing the deal with Shanghai Shenhua.
Eight years after he started playing for Chelsea, scoring 157 goals for the club, winning three league titles, four FA Cups and one incredible Champions League title, the question whether Drogba was under-appreciated during his stay at the club still remains. Maybe it was his over-physical style and tendency for diving and feigning injuries that always made the people prefer others when talking about the best striker in the world.
He certainly wasn’t among them during the 2011-2012 season, scoring only 5 league goals in 24 matches. But just as you expect veterans with fading physical attributes to do, Drogba saved his energy for the important matches and battles. The two games against Barcelona; The Champions League final, scoring the late equalizer and putting his Africa Cup of Nations demons behind him, scoring the final penalty that made Chelsea European champions.
Now it’s off to China, playing for a club owned by Zhu Jun, managed by former Argentina head coach and 1986 World Cup champion, Sergio Batista. Drogba will earn £200,000 a week. He thought Chelsea might be interested in giving him a big, impressive contract for the rest of his career, but an entire season of negotiations proved him wrong. Drogba, unlike Samuel Eto’o, is leaving well past his prime, knowing fully well it’s all about the money in these remaining years on the pitch. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
I have considered all the offers I have received in the past few weeks, but feel that Shanghai Shenhua FC is the right move for me at this time. I am looking forward to a new challenge, to experiencing a new culture, and am excited about the new developments in the Chinese Super League. When Chelsea went to China last year, we had a great time and I met some amazing fans. I hope to help promote Chinese football around the world and further improve the links between China and Africa.
Drogba could have stayed and played in Europe for the rest of his career, for clubs looking for continental glory. But none of them would have offered him this kind of salary and this kind of boost to his ego. For once, he’s the biggest star in the league he’s playing in. No longer able to dominate defenders every week, spending his twilight years as a footballer in China sounds like a pretty good idea.