After eight seasons, three league wins, four FA Cups, two League Cups and over 150 goals, Didier Drogba will, in all likelihood, say goodbye to the English Premier League this weekend.
The Ivorian striker’s contract runs out this summer and, despite playing a starring role in Chelsea’s successes since Roman Abramovich’s millions changed the fortunes of the west London club, Drogba is unlikely to be offered the two-year contract he craves this summer.
It means Sunday’s game at home to relegated Blackburn is likely to be his last on English soil. Boss Roberto di Matteo is likely to name the 34-year-old on the bench, with one of the few trophies Drogba is yet to win in a blue shirt up for grabs in a week’s time, the Champions League.
With Drogba likely to be given the nod in Munich, Fernando Torres is more likely to lead the attack against Rovers, but expect Drogba to feature in some way (he is 3/1 to score first), if only to get the applause he deserves from a home crowd happy to laud him with appreciation for his time at Chelsea.
The question will then turn to potential new employers, with interest from China (where former strike partner Nicolas Anelka is currently earning his trade for Shanghai Shenhua) and the MLS well documented.
However, recent reports suggest that the 2009 African Player of the Year might not need to leave Europe to continue his football career, with former club Marseille also considering bringing the man who scored 32 goals in just 55 appearances back to the Stade Velodrome.
Despite spending just one season in the south of France, Drogba remains a fans favourite at l’OM (the shirt he wore in the 2004 UEFA Cup Final hangs proudly in Marseille’s basilica), and two additional years in Ligue Un, where he began his career with Le Mans in 1997, could well tempt the Ivorian.
But as Chelsea fans offer their hero a standing ovation at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, they may contemplate the one scenario that could well see the man signed by Jose Mourinho in 2004 back at the Bridge next season: should Drogba score the winning goal in Munich next week to secure Chelsea’s maiden Champions League title, who would dare refuse him a two-year deal?