Next step for Chelsea? ‘Be stronger ... to compete in the Champions League’ says Didier Drogba

Didier Drogba says he is in part leaving to pave a path to playing time for the likes of Dominic Solanke, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Nathan Ake so Chelsea can develop the stars needed to advance in Europe.
Chelsea player Didier Drogba celebrates with teammates as champions after their final Premier League match of the season on Sunday. Andy Rain / EPA / May 24, 2015
Chelsea player Didier Drogba celebrates with teammates as champions after their final Premier League match of the season on Sunday. Andy Rain / EPA / May 24, 2015

Didier Drogba says he decided to leave Chelsea to give youth a chance, and that the club must make more improvements to reach the next level in Europe.

Drogba’s final match after two spells totalling nine years as a Chelsea player concluded with Sunday’s 3-1 win over Sunderland, after which they lifted the Premier League title.

Drogba, Petr Cech and captain John Terry were in the teams which have won all of Chelsea’s four Premier League titles, but the striker now says manager Jose Mourinho should look to the future.

Drogba believes the club need to strengthen in a bid to win the Champions League title they won in 2012 again and should show faith in youth.

“The team needs to be stronger next year to compete in the Champions League,” said Drogba, after Chelsea’s last-16 elimination on away goals to Paris Saint-Germain this term.

“They are going to buy new players. Also we have young players coming up, the [Dominic] Solankes, [Ruben] Loftus-Cheeks, [Nathan] Akes, all these boys. They need to play.”

Drogba is deliberating over his next destination and says he could never play for another English club.

He was carried off on his teammates’ shoulders in a pre-planned first-half substitution on Sunday after announcing his departure before kick off.

He wishes to play on one more season and feels the need to leave to get the game time he craves.

Cech, who has one year left on his contract, could also depart after being displaced by Thibaut Courtois this term following a decade as first-choice goalkeeper.

But Drogba is urging the 33-year-old Czech Republic international to stay and fight for his place.

“I think the club should keep him because we know who Petr Cech is at this club,” Drogba said.

“No matter what happens I think the club will respect his decision.

“If he wants to stay, he can stay. I think he is more than welcome here.

“If he wants to go it’s his choice as well. It’s up to him. But we want him to stay.”

Drogba could return to Stamford Bridge in some capacity in the future. “I think we are going to find a way ... if I come back it’s for a reason,” he said.

A move to Major League Soccer, joining Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard, seems plausible, with Drogba saying he received calls from clubs after the Sunderland match.

“Since I put it on social media I was in the dressing room and I was receiving some calls from teams. Really unusual,” he said.

“It was funny and interesting also because it really showed that maybe I can still bring something to a team.

“I am going to take a few days, few weeks to think about what is good for me next. But all I want to do is play.”

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Published: May 26, 2015 04:00 AM

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