Will Chelsea offer Didier Drogba a new contract? Should they?


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.

Rumored Neymar for Bale swap: Who wins?

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Who would gain more of an advantage from the rumored, sensational Gareth Bale for Neymar swap: Paris Saint-Germain or Real Madrid?

Both players are currently problems for their clubs, though neither is known as a true rabble-rouser; Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane wants to be done with the newly-minted 30-year-old Bale, while PSG knows Neymar wants to leave and would love to satiate Kylian Mbappe’s appetite to be the man at their club.

[ REPORT: Man Utd, Leicester agree Maguire fee ]

Presumably some money would be headed PSG’s way in addition to Bale, and both clubs would be getting a motivated megawatt star.

Neymar doesn’t turn 28 until February, but the difference in age may be offset by the Brazilian’s track record of injuries.

In fact, his injury status last season combines with an off-field accusation of sexual assault and a red card for confronting a fan to overshadow his production: Neymar’s 23 goals and 13 assists in just over 2300 minutes last season, including five and two in the Champions League (and a goal and an assist against defensively-stout Liverpool).

Bale presents very few personality challenges, and PSG won’t have a problem with his massive wages (especially with Neymar off the books). His numbers have dipped in two of three seasons since his otherworldly 2015-16, but La Liga is a more difficult scoring league than Ligue 1.

Neymar has twice been a Ballon d’Or finalist and, presuming his legal troubles don’t persist, could be a title fight changer in La Liga. Imagine the Neymar, Eden Hazard, and Luka Jovic trying to outgun Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezmann, and Luis Suarez? Insane.

We’d say Real would be winning the straight-up swap, and that it’s pretty unlikely to go down that way. So it depends what PSG does with the relative Financial Fair Play freedom that would come with the money that also arrives from Spain. Is it Idrissa Gana Gueye? Someone else who helps take PSG’s Champions League hopes to the next level?

Manchester United in ‘concrete talks’ with Lille over Pepe

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Manchester United are reportedly in “concrete talks” to agree a fee with Lille for much-tracked playmaker Nicolas Pepe.

The 24-year-old attacking midfielder has been linked with Liverpool and Arsenal amongst others, and Lille has admitted he’ll be leaving the club.

[ REPORT: Man Utd, Leicester agree Maguire fee ]

United’s reported salvo was around $87.5 million. He’d give them a star who could play across from Anthony Martial or as an attacking midfielder under Romelu Lukaku.

Only Kylian Mbappe and Teji Savanier garnered better season-long ratings than Pepe in the 2018-19 Ligue 1 campaign, and Pepe’s 22 goals and 11 assists stand out from the pack. Only Mbappe had more goals and only Savanier more assists.

Pepe has four goals in 11 caps for the Ivory Coast, and made three starts in Les Elephants’ five-match run at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations. He’s a fit for the Premier League, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s system. And if the Red Devils can keep him from Liverpool, well, all the better we’re sure.

Report: Manchester United, Leicester agree to monster Maguire fee

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Manchester United and Leicester City have agreed a fee for Harry Maguire, clearing the way for the English center back to join the Old Trafford set.

That fee is a whopping $100 million, according to Bleacher Report’s Dean Jones. That’s about $4 million more than the world record for a defender, set when Liverpool purchased Virgil Van Dijk from Southampton.

[ MORE: USMNT CB to West Ham? ]

Maguire has been a statistical monster for Leicester City, and he passes the eye test, too.

Manchester United has needed to upgrade its stable of center backs for some time, and now the biggest question is who will work best alongside the 6-foot-4 26-year-old.

The former Sheffield United, Wigan Athletic, and Hull City defender is now 20-times capped by England.

The move could have a ripple effect on the Premier League, as the Foxes have been expected to bid for Burnley star James Tarkowski should Maguire leave the King Power Stadium.

Transfer rumor roundup: USMNT’s Long to London, Newcastle linked with pair

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Could USMNT center back Aaron Long be headed to the Premier League?

The 26-year-old could join West Ham United’s stable of center backs, which includes Issa Diop, Fabian Balbuena, and Angelo Ogbonna.

Sky Sports says that the Red Bulls defender has drawn the interest of Lyon and Fiorentina, but been offered to the Irons should they match his $5 million release clause.

Unable to find a place with Portland and Seattle, Long spent a few seasons in the USL before earning a place with RBNY.

Now 11-times capped by the USMNT with two goals, Long could be bringing his talents to London’s Olympic Stadium.

Elsewhere in the Premier League, Newcastle United has the chance to sign oft-injured Danny Welbeck on a free transfer.

The longtime Arsenal striker, weaned at Manchester United, scored five times in 12 matches last season in a return to injury woes following a 43-match season the prior year.

Newcastle is also being linked with a former defender. James Tavernier has gone on to captain Glasgow Rangers, and the 27-year-old would cost around $10 million.

Surely Steven Gerrard would want more for the defender, but prices haven’t met quality for Scottish Premiership players as we’ve seen with Kieran Tierney at Celtic.