Drogba has firmly established as a legend of English soccer. With his 100 Chelsea goals, his FA Cup wins and his penalty to bring Chelsea European glory, Drogba has secured himself a place in the hearts of fans everywhere.
With his time at Chelsea at an end, numerous clubs have lined up as suitors, Real Madrid being one of them. For a number of reasons, though, Madrid should not sign the legendary Ivorian.
Didier Drogba turned 34 in March and is not getting younger. Contemporaries like Thierry Henry (also 34) are already in the twilight of their careers, playing in smaller leagues like the MLS or, in Nicolas Anelka's case, China.
If Drogba were to arrive in Madrid, he would be the oldest player, older than Ricardo Carvalho. Signing such an old player on a team that seems to place an emphasis on talented youth (over half the starting squad is 25 or younger) seems to be counter to the current philosophy in the Spanish capital.
Didier Drogba is a physical kind of striker. He's big and imposing, which contributes to his great hold-up play. He's exactly the kind of striker Chelsea have needed throughout the years. But how does he fit into Madrid's system?
Let's look at how Madrid works. Madrid are a counter-attacking team that rely on speed, technical ability and quality passing to advance the ball upfield and dominate possession. They run most of their attacks from the left side and are generally very free-flowing, with players of all positions moving up and down the pitch and working from both sides. None of that describes the type of system Drogba is used to.
Drogba is nowhere near the passer that Karim Benzema is. His finishing isn't as good as Gonzalo Higuain's. He's not as fast as anyone on Madrid's attack, and although technically gifted, his ability pales in comparison to others' in the Los Blancos offensive. The style of play is just not his.
Drogba is perfectly suited for English play. In Spain, though, the emphasis is on the technical ability and passing that has made Madrid and teams like Barcelona famous. The Ivorian just doesn't fit that mold.
Didier Drogba had a decent year with Chelsea. Let's not get ourselves caught up in superlatives. Drogba scored just five times in his 21 Premier League appearances. That's fewer than John Terry, fewer than Fernando Torres.
Drogba had flashes of brilliance where he reminded us of the player he once was. In the Champions League, he proved himself a great competitor, netting six times in eight appearances, which is simply fantastic. He put away the final goal in the shootout to win Chelsea the Champions League and to secure his legacy as an all-time great. It was fitting and beautiful.
Drogba's best years are behind him, though. Ricardo Carvalho, also 34, saw just seven league starts, the same amount as the fresh Raphael Varane. There is little room for veterans in this Real Madrid squad. Players like Sergio Ramos (26 years old) are seen as the leaders and experienced members of the team. Strikers with the undeniable talent and form that Benzema and Higuain possess are the norm now for Madrid fans. Drogba wouldn't be able to compete.
Didier Drogba impressed in the Champions League. He was great in the Africa Cup of Nations. He finished his Chelsea season strong and captured the admiration of fans everywhere. He was even lucky enough to carry the Olympic torch.
He's viewed highly right now. His form was great to wrap up the season. That said, as international tournaments have shown us, players' values go up following good play, fluke or not. Drogba will surely see his value inflated. A striker with as average of an overall season as Drogba's should not be worth the £180,000-plus a week that rumors say he is being offered; that's more than Karim Benzema earns.
It's not that Real Madrid doesn't have they money—they certainly do—but why spend that kind of money on a player who will surely see less than 10 starts?
If Didier Drogba were to come to Real Madrid, he would be destined to fail. He would be thrown into an unfamiliar system, playing past his prime and seeing limited playing time. Does that sound like the kind of legacy Drogba wants to leave, or that Madrid and Jose Mourinho want him to leave?
Of course not. Drogba has a chance to really have an impact on a team, but that team is not Madrid. He has a chance to carry his legacy to another country like the United States and continue his play in the same way we've seen Thierry Henry, David Beckham and Robbie Kean do. He should make his legacy one of a star, not a substitute.