Pros and Cons – Return of the King

By
Updated: July 23, 2014

Rumors have been circulating recently that Didier Drogba is due for a big Chelsea return. As with most things, fan opinion is largely divided on the issue. For some fans, it’s a no-brainer to bring one the biggest club legends home for one last season before he retires. For others, the prospect of spoiling a perfect farewell in 2012 is too scary, and they’d rather leave things be. Personally, I’m not actually sure where I stand on the issue, and so I figured that makes for a perfect time to bring back the “Pros & Cons” series that I first used to get myself happy about the Fabregas transfer.

Cons

The first big thing going against this transfer is that it has the potential to spoil an already perfect ending to Drogba’s Chelsea career. Like a mint-condition Early Bird Star Wars kit that has never been opened, the perfectly packaged memories of Drogba’s departure are priceless to Chelsea fans. From that corner kick goal, to the winning penalty and the feeling of pure, unfiltered ecstasy Chelsea fans felt in that moment, to the farewell message, not even a Hollywood script writer could come up with a better ending to a legendary career than that. And so the worry goes that there’s no way that this season could have an ending as magical as May 2012, and so for Drogba to come back and spoil that would be a terrible idea.

Another potentially negative aspect of this transfer has to do with temperamental young striker Romelu Lukaku. Lukaku’s per 90 stats are exceptional in many areas, especially for such a young striker, and I would really rather see him playing for Chelsea next season than anyone else. Last season, it was a late transfer for another aging legendary African striker that scared Lukaku into pushing for another loan, and it’s not clear how he would react to the signing of Drogba (especially after the club already signed Diego Costa this summer).

Aside from the issue of spoiling a perfect ending, there’s also the question of what value Drogba would bring to the field as a player. I won’t bum you out with the numbers, but trust me when I say that a quick trip to the Squawka Comparison Matrix shows that Drogba’s per 90 numbers are not even up to the level of Fernando Torres any more (in terms of goals, passing, shooting accuracy, or any other important category you can think ).  Even in his last couple of seasons in Blue, magical cup runs aside, Drogba could not really perform to an elite level over the course of an entire season any more. Fast-forward a few years, and there’s almost no way that an even-older Drogba could keep up in one of the hardest leagues in the world.

Pros

As with the Fabregas article, let’s see if maybe we can turn any of those cons into pros. In terms of the first concern, I don’t agree that Drogba coming home could in any way spoil the memories of 2012. Just ask basketball fans if seeing a 40-year-old Michael Jordan come out of retirement and toil away on the Washington Wizards in any way diminishes the amazing things he did in the 90s. The same thing goes for Magic Johnson and the Lakers. Those perfect memories of 2012 will remain intact, safely packaged in our hearts and minds, no matter what happens this season. Even in the worst case scenario (as often ends up being the case for aged legends who go for one last hurrah) where Drogba performs horribly this season, history has shown that it will not take away from his legacy. The only thing that could do that is some sort of off-the-field scandal, which is not something anyone is worried about with a man whose off-the-field actions have made him a legendary humanitarian and national hero. Sports fans forgive decline in age from their legends; what they don’t forgive are cheats and liars, which is not really a concern with Drogba at all. And in the best case scenario, Drogba comes off the bench to score the goal that secures the treble, which might even top 2012. There’s almost no downside, and a chance (a good chance, if you’re feeling confident about Chelsea’s upcoming season) to add to a long list of amazing moments and trophies with the club.

As far as Lukaku goes, given that Drogba is one of his heroes, you would have to imagine that the prospect of having a personal hero as a direct mentor would be an exciting one for Lukaku. Realistically, Drogba isn’t going to take any minutes away from Lukaku, but he could teach him a lot in training about how to use his physical gifts to reach his maximum potential. One would hope that Lukaku is smart enough at least to realize that much, and would be excited to work with Drogba, instead of seeing him as more competition and an obstacle that needs to be overcome. That remains to be seen, but we can at least hope.

In terms of the final concern, I agree that Drogba is nowhere near the player he once was, especially over the course of a long season, but the nice thing about coming to Chelsea would be that he wouldn’t need to perform a lot over the course of the season. Chelsea have signed Diego Costa to be that player, and Drogba would be coming back for other reasons. His minutes at the World Cup have shown (yes, yes, I know, sample size) that he still has the ability to come off the bench and change a game. Managed well, and used in the right situations, Drogba still has enough gas in the tank left to contribute to a team with title winning aspirations. Imagine a scenario where Chelsea are desperate for a goal, like against PSG last season, except instead of Etorresba, they have Costa, Lukaku, and Drogba out there. That’s a hilarious thought, isn’t it? It’s utterly unsustainable over the course of an entire game, but over a ten-minute intense stretch, that’s a genuinely terrifying prospect for ANY defense. And that’s not to mention all the leadership that Drogba would bring to the club. He’s a Mourinho man to the core, and has the potential to be an important locker room influence on younger guys, especially now that Frankie and Ash are gone. That’s part of why Chelsea are talking about bringing Drogba back as not just a player but as part of the coaching staff as well; his contributions would not be only on the pitch.

In the end, at least for me, only one thing really matters: It’s Drogba! I mean, come on! How can you not be excited at the thought of seeing Didier Drogba in Blue again! If he wants to come back, then Chelsea has to make it happen. Yes, yes, a thousand times yes.

This piece has been contributed by Oscar Puente, a Chelsea fan since Michael Ballack joined the club in 2006. Oscar hails from New York City, and is a mathematician and economist in his regular life. You can find him on Twitter @footiefromafar.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *