Didier Drogba: Would Chelsea Be a Better Side If They Re-Signed Him?

Dan LeveneFeatured ColumnistMarch 17, 2014

ISTANBUL, TURKEY - FEBRUARY 26:  John Terry of Chelsea looks on as Didier Drogba of Galatasaray clears the ball during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first leg match between Galatasaray AS and Chelsea at Ali Sami Yen Arena on February 26, 2014 in Istanbul, Turkey.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images

With Chelsea desperate for a striker and one of their greatest ever set to return for just one night, would the Blues be a better side if Didier Drogba made that move permanent?

Drogba will be welcomed back with open arms when he arrives at Stamford Bridge in the red and yellow of Galatasaray on Tuesday.

Less than two years on from that magnificent exit, the Champions League game will give fans the opportunity to finally say thanks for a remarkable spell where he almost single-handedly procured a cabinet full of silverware through scoring some of the last decade's most important goals.

The talk, inevitably, is about a less fleeting return for the 36-year-old.

Chelsea undoubtedly need the persistent and prolific goalscoring, as well as the big-game character, that the Drogba of old displayed.

There is clearly a space for a worldly experienced striker who can terrify goalkeepers and bustle through defences—as Samuel Eto'o, presently on a one-year deal, has occasionally demonstrated.

And the Drogba that made himself such a hero at Chelsea was so much more than just that.

He created attacks, led from the front and held the ball up.

That Drogba could add so much to any side—if only he were still available.

In the intervening two years, he has been playing at at considerably lower level—at first in China and now in Turkey.

And, while he has demonstrated flashes of that brilliance and experience over that time, there has to be a question about whether he would be able to maintain it over the course of a Premier League season.

In May 2012, he left Chelsea after they could not agree on a new contract. For a club in a comparatively junior league, seeking a big name to attract interest from players and a football-hungry world, that seems a great investment.

For a side at the top of the Premier League, with a bevy of world-class stars and a wage bill already pushing at the boundaries of Financial Fair Play, the demands for return on such an investment may eclipse what a 36-year-old can deliver.

Add to all that the fact that Chelsea are set up completely differently now to how they were when Drogba ruled.

The raking long ball to the big guy up front, so successful so often with Drogba, is officially a thing of the past (but for the occasional, inexplicable, 60-yard David Luiz defensive clearance).

Though Jose Mourinho has experimented with styles this season, and the Chelsea we have seen are not necessarily the tiki-taka design apparently so coveted by owner Roman Abramovich, there is more of the expectation that the striker takes the ball on the deck—rather than on the chest or the head.

MUNICH, GERMANY - MAY 19:  Didier Drogba of Chelsea celebrates with team mate Juan Mata after scoring his team’s first goal during UEFA Champions League Final between FC Bayern Muenchen and Chelsea at the Fussball Arena München on May 19, 2012 in Munich,
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Drogba cemented his Chelsea legend in a way seldom seen in the history of football.

His final kick of the ball turned out to be probably the greatest the club has seen in over a century of football.

It is a truth that is occasionally proved wrong, not least in the case of Portuguese managers, but the phrase "never go back" does come to mind here.

Drogba will be loved when he returns to Stamford Bridge. There might even a bit of lust for the days when just one kick from him could switch a season from failure to success.

But a full-on rekindling of the relationship? It's probably for the best that both parties have moved on.