With the Ivorian’s one-year deal scheduled to expire this June, the easy answer to whether he should sign back on is “yes.” The longer, more realistic solution is much more complicated.
Didier Drogba, at 37 years of age, hasn’t put up gaudy numbers this season in his return to Chelsea, but proved himself invaluable to the club’s title run, filling in for injured strikers Diego Costa and Loic Remy.
Drogba, who scored just four goals in 27 league appearances and had even uglier peripheral statistics, contributed in a much more workman-like manner. With so many talented attacking players at Stamford Bridge who succeed operating both in space and running at defenders, all Drogba had to do was present a threat at the top, and he would do his job of drawing attention in order to allow his teammates room to operate.
This he did admirably, even down the stretch while his body was giving out. Jose Mourinho admitted he was not 100% for much of the stretch run, but was still forced into action due to injuries around him.
Finding a player of quality willing to ride the bench and serve as an insurance policy is nearly impossible, even at a club of Chelsea’s stature – just ask Javier Hernandez. Players, eventually, want to start. But Drogba, at his age and ability, is in the perfect situation at Stamford Bridge, and is almost certainly satisfied with his current position. Obviously potential retirement is a factor, but that’s up to the player to decide.
Here’s the issue: with Drogba on rolling one-year deals at Chelsea, will ownership justify a bit more in wages for a Blues legend to keep their super-sub happy? A young talent wouldn’t cost nearly as much, but also would be a risk. Surely next season whoever occupies that role won’t see nearly as much playing time as Drogba got this season, called into action more than Mourinho probably would have liked due to injuries. Can Chelsea afford to glue one of its talented youth players to the bench, or bring someone else in who will end up whining for more playing time?
Why fix what at the moment isn’t broken? The rest of the club certainly wants Drogba back.
Ultimately, it will all come down to risk vs reward. Drogba will cost more than anyone else the club would call in to do his job, but at the higher cost comes much less risk. Sure, there’s a chance he will break down further to the point where his body no longer allows him to perform his required duties, but there’s also far less danger of Drogba complaining about playing time like a superstar in his prime would, or rotting on the bench as a youth player might. The Ivorian international represents quality value in a position that’s harder to fill than many understand.
Only this summer will tell us whether Drogba will earn himself another year of duties at Chelsea, but the club would be well served to sign him up again, should he wish to continue his career.