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Ranking Didier Drogba in Chelsea's All-Time Best Centre-Forwards

Garry Hayes@@garryhayesFeatured ColumnistJuly 21, 2017

Chelsea's Spanish striker Diego Costa (L) and Chelsea's Ivorian striker Didier Drogba (R) embrace after the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Hull City at Stamford Bridge in London on December 13, 2014. AFP PHOTO / JUSTIN TALLIS

RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or live services. Online in-match use limited to 45 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.        (Photo credit should read JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images)
JUSTIN TALLIS/Getty Images

It seems Chelsea strikers past, present and future can't escape the headlines these days.

Diego Costa hasn't been far from the back pages this summer because of his protracted move away from Stamford Bridge and consequent Instagram stories. Meanwhile, Didier Drogba has been trending across social media for the all the right reasons after his USL exploits with new club Phoenix Rising.

The Ivorian has also been celebrating the 13th anniversary of his signing for Chelsea, which came on July 20, 2004.

As recently as Wednesday, the Blues announced they had reached an agreement for the transfer of Alvaro Morata from Real Madrid. All that's needed is for the Spaniard to pass a medical and agree personal terms before he becomes a Chelsea player.

Morata's pending arrival has made him flavour of the month among Chelsea fans, with predictions abound of where he might position himself among the club's legends.

With all this in mind, we thought it was a good time to step back and rank Drogba and Chelsea's other memorable centre-forwards. So here's our top five.

      

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5. Jimmy Greaves

Chelsea forward Jimmy Greaves, 1957. (Photo by Don Morley/Getty Images)
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You have to be long in the tooth to remember seeing Jimmy Greaves donning Chelsea colours. The Englishman came through the club's youth ranks in the 1950s before making a name for himself with his prolific goalscoring.

He was a sensation and is considered among the finest strikers England has produced. Unfortunately, his Chelsea career didn't last as long as some fans would've hoped, and he was sold to AC Milan in 1961, just four years after making his Blues debut.

Still, Greaves had already notched up 132 goals in 169 games all competitions, outlining what a supreme talent he was. In today's money, that sort of scoring record would make him one of the most coveted players in the world.

For Greaves circa 1961, think Kylian Mbappe in 2017.

AC Milan got Greaves for a steal at just £80,000, although the move didn't quite go to plan. Within a year, the striker was back scoring goals in England but playing for Tottenham Hotspur, where he was just as effective as he was for Chelsea.

With more time at Stamford Bridge, he would've undoubtedly become the club's all-time leading goalscorer—his goals in those first four years prove that—but his Blues career was cut short at 21 by that move to Italy.

     

4. Kerry Dixon

Apr 1985:  Portrait of Kerry Dixon of Chelsea during a Canon League Division One match against Queens Park Rangers at Stamford Bridge in London. Chelsea won the match 1-0. \ Mandatory Credit: Allsport UK /Allsport
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When Chelsea's fortunes fluctuated in the 1980s like the pound sterling in a post-Brexit-vote world, there was one thing consistent at Stamford Bridge: Kerry Dixon and his goals.

The striker joined Chelsea from Reading in 1983, remaining in west London right through to 1992. He departed just as the Premier League was introduced, but his legend down the King's Road had long since been secured.

He hit 193 goals in the club's famous royal blue, becoming the second-highest goalscorer in Chelsea's history behind Bobby Tambling. That meant he surpassed the likes of Greaves and Peter Osgood in the scoring charts, which was no mean feat.

Dixon did it all at a time when Chelsea were struggling. From battling it out for titles in one season, the Blues faced relegation the next, only to bounce back and go through all the angst again.

With financial ruin hanging over them, Dixon helped guide the club to a position of strength by the time the riches of the Premier League came around.

       

3. Peter Osgood

Undated:  Peter Osgood of Chelsea during a match. Mandatory Credit: Allsport UK/ALLSPORT
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There is only one player who has a statue in his honour on the grounds of Stamford Bridge. That man is Peter Osgood, and when fans learn about his legacy in west London, they understand why.

Ossie transcended time. He was as much a hero to fans growing up in the 1980s as he was to those watching him during the peak of his powers in the 1960s. Like Greaves, Osgood was a product of Chelsea's youth system, and he played with the all the verve of his former team-mate.

He wasn't just a goalscorer, though. His 150 strikes in Chelsea blue tell us just how dangerous he was in front of goal, but it was his style that separated from others. Osgood was a maverick, playing the game with a freedom and joy that related to the passionate Shed End crowd.

Osgood was a hero as much for the games he won as the excitement he delivered whenever he was in possession of the football. There have been few like him at Chelsea.

     

2. Diego Costa

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 27:  Diego Costa of Chelsea celebrates after scoring a goal to make it 1-1 during the Emirates FA Cup Final match between Arsenal and Chelsea at Wembley Stadium on May 27, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/G
Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

Talk about mavericks of the likes of Osgood, Diego Costa has taken things to a whole new level at Chelsea. He's been a renegade—a man fighting the system and, this summer, his club.

Given all we've seen from the Spain international in his three seasons at Stamford Bridge, it comes as a huge disappointment to see him set to depart the club under the grey clouds that follow him around. He didn't travel with Antonio Conte's squad to China for pre-season, instead being left behind in England as the team moves forward without him.

We've seen the videos of him partying in Atletico Madrid colours, showing little regard for Chelsea and the fans.

But forgetting all that, we have to remember what an exceptional talent he has been in west London. Costa has been the goalscorer who has helped deliver two Premier League titles in three seasons for Chelsea; he's been the threat the club has needed at a time when goalscoring talent is proving so hard to come by.

He courts controversy, and there have been times it has deflected from what he offers to Chelsea, which we shouldn't forget. In time, he'll be recognised for what he is: one the finest frontmen to play for Chelsea.

      

1. Didier Drogba

Chelsea football club player Didier Drogba holds the Champions League and FA Cup as the team rides during an open-top bus parade along Kings Road in west London on May 20, 2012.  Chelsea's dramatic win over Bayern Munich on penalties last night has result
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The debate about Costa and Drogba is over. Why? Because of everything we've outlined above.

In terms of legend, Costa could never compete with Drogba until he had single-handedly won Chelsea the Champions League. That was Drogba's status sealed with the biggest kiss of them all.

Where the debate had raged on, though, was on talent and presence. For this writer, Costa's scoring record and the way he influenced matches in his three seasons at Stamford Bridge spoke of a player who was superior to Drogba. He scored more goals and helped Chelsea win more matches; as he enters his prime years, the expectation is for that to only grow.

It took Drogba three years to do what Costa has been doing from the moment he signed for Chelsea in 2014. Where Dorgba beats his former team-mate, however, is longevity. After that slow start, he initially hung around for a total of eight seasons to secure his position as Chelsea's No. 1.

Costa is cutting that short, meaning he'll never compare to what Drogba achieved in terms of trophies and his overall legacy.

Nobody can. Potential is one thing, but realising it is quite another. By the time he departed Chelsea for second time in 2015, Drogba had done it all.

Costa could've emulated that, but it's appearing he won't be around for us to find out whether he will.

     

What the Fans Think

As a footnote, we wanted to get the thoughts of Chelsea fans on the striker debate at Stamford Bridge. Our Twitter poll proved a rather emphatic declaration of Drogba's greatness in a Chelsea shirt.

Garry Hayes @garryhayes

Who's #CFC'S GOAT striker?

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