Commentary

The Problem with Drogba-to-MLS

If you’ve been following the news, it looks as though Chelsea legend Didier Drogba is about to move to MLS. The only question seems to be whether the Ivorian striker will head to the Chicago Fire or the Montreal Impact. According to Canadian radio station TSN, the Fire has the priority to sign the 37-year-old, but Drogba has also been talking with Montreal president Joey Saputo.

Coincidentally, Chelsea was in Montreal this week practicing ahead of its first International Champions Cup game on Wednesday night against the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena. When asked what advice he would give his former player about playing in Montreal, Blues coach Jose Mourinho was his usual glib self:

"What can I say? I can say if he doesn't have a house yet the hotel is good to stay. I can say that I saw some nice houses when I went for a walk to the top point. The training ground is good, in very good conditions," the Portuguese said. "And the people love football. If not they would not be at the training ground every day, stopping us every day when we go for a walk. The weather is nice for now but I cannot speak about the winter! The colors of the club are also nice!"

Predictably, Mourinho, who has always been very close to Drogba, had little to say about Montreal or the prospect of his former player joining the Impact, as he likely not very familiar with either. But the Chelsea manager had plenty to say about the player he first signed for Chelsea way back in 2004:

"If I owned a club, I would immediately think about a player like him -- a man like him -- to be the center of the club's universe,” Mourinho said when asked about the Drogba-to-MLS rumors. “He is very strong in the dressing room. He is very strong in his image. He is a great example of a club man and the fact that he didn't accept an offer to stay with us.”

That last part was new information. Drogba had announced on May 24, the final day of the Premier League season, that the game against Sunderland, which the Blues won 3-1, would be his last for Chelsea, as he decided to looks elsewhere to ride out his final few years as a player. 

But had Mourinho tried to convince him to continue playing for Chelsea? "At the end of last season we let him choose what he wanted to do with us," the Chelsea coach said. "For him not to accept that, and decide to delay coaching for two years' time, because obviously he will be back with us in two years' time; to not accept that and say clearly that he still wants to enjoy his football two more years is the best answer. He feels in great conditions for two more years."

Now, Off The Post has no inside information here, but judging by Mourinho’s ambiguous words, it sounds as though Drogba was offered any Chelsea role he wanted, but only as part of the club’s staff, and the Ivorian turned the offer down because he wanted to continue playing.

As a Chelsea fan, OTP, for one, has absolutely no problem with that. Drogba, like Frank Lampard who was shown the door the season before, was an excellent player and ambassador for the club. He won everything there is to win alongside fellow legends Lampard and John Terry and he will one day come back in the capacity of his choosing, which Blues fans are certainly looking forward to.

Now, here’s the really hard part: MLS should steer clear of signing the Ivorian.

Once a force that almost couldn’t even be reckoned with, Drogba, at 37, is a shadow of the player he used to be. Sure, the big man is still good in the air and can body anybody in any league off the ball for as long as he chooses, but the speed, explosiveness and quick reactions that he used to have are essentially gone now.

For stretches of last season, when the likes of Diego Costa and Loic Remy were injured, Chelsea was forced to carry Drogba through many games. At times, it was painful to watch. In all, the third-choice striker made 40 appearances, scoring seven goals and adding two assists. These are not the numbers of a striker in productive form.

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Now, Drogba has not suddenly become a useless player -- he would definitely score goals in MLS. The problem is that Chicago, for example, was looking at signing the former Ivory Coast international on more than $2.5 million per year, in addition to use TAM to pay down the contract of an existing designated player in order to accommodate him, according to ESPN. Judging by his final season with the English Premier League champ, Drogba is just no longer worth that. 

6 comments about "The Problem with Drogba-to-MLS".
  1. Joey Tremone, July 22, 2015 at 4:05 p.m.

    Drogba is a tank. Even slow tanks are hard to stop. And as far as the salary goes, a lot of that is about selling tickets, which he will probably still do. I think a bigger problem is that neither of these teams looks like a title contender this year with only one additional player, so effectively you're getting one year with him to try to make a run.

  2. Shane Harris, July 22, 2015 at 4:13 p.m.

    I think it's time to recognize that what a person is worth in MLS has a lot to do with marketing.

  3. Raymond Weigand, July 22, 2015 at 4:48 p.m.

    The MLS should say no ... soon we will have a huff and puff league of older distinguished gentlemen - being paid 40 times the minimum. External marketing? How about bringing in 5 players being paid 8 times the minimum and a coach who knows a thing or two about team offense and team defense. If you want people in the seats ... then entertain them!

  4. Nate Nelson, July 22, 2015 at 5:23 p.m.

    "Move to MLS, The only question seems to be whether the Ivorian striker will head to the Chicago Fire or the Montreal Impact. According to Canadian radio station TSN, the Fire has the priority to sign him?" what ever happen to free agency? Oh I forgot this is MLS - soccer socialism...
    (MLS - the Jurassic Park of Soccer) See the dinosaurs before they die!

  5. uffe gustafsson, July 22, 2015 at 6:02 p.m.

    Hum socialist league, that's your dirty word.
    Wish you read this comment from a Spanish league coach, that their league consist of only a few teams out 20 teams that dominate that league because of the money they can spend.
    The rest of the teams have zero chance to compete against those 3-4 teams.
    Same goes for German league.
    Is that good for the sport, I say no.
    So how do you leveling the field so you don't have just 2 teams fighting for the crown year after year.
    If you are not a Barcelona or Madrid fan how do you feel to be a fan of the 18 other teams.
    Capitalist way sounds not such a great concept when it comes to soccer.

  6. Tim Gibson, July 23, 2015 at 8:31 a.m.

    Just say NO MLS!...We don't need to always be the dumping ground for the Euro leagues has beens. Please continue to develope our youth & homegrown talent that IS out there & often not given proper training or is simply overlooked. MLS can someday soon be a much more significant league "IF" we stay away from bringing in past their prime stars. It's time to make the next jump & do it on our own.

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