Mourinho sweet-talks Drogba into giving Chelsea another year
Ivorian striker returns to Stamford Bridge for second spell
Didier Drogba has joined Chelsea as a free agent, with his contract at Galatasaray having expired at the end of last season. Photograph: Rebecca Naden/PA Wire
Didier Drogba has completed an emotional return to Chelsea on a one-year contract, having been sweet-talked by José Mourinho into ignoring offers from elsewhere. The Ivory Coast striker had two-year deals on the table from three Major League Soccer clubs but he has been unable to ignore the pull of Chelsea.
Mourinho has reshuffled his attacking options over the summer, signing Diego Costa from Atletico Madrid for £32 million (€40 million) – only once has the club paid more for a player – and moving on Samuel Eto’o and Demba Ba. Drogba (36) will no longer be a first-choice selection but Mourinho hopes that his personality and experience will serve to inspire the rest of the dressing room, most notably the younger players.
Mourinho has turned on the charm to attract players during his second spell at Chelsea. He told Eto’o, for example, that even if he scored one goal, it would be enough for him while he paid a personal visit to Cesc Fábregas in Spain earlier in the summer to persuade him to swap Barcelona for Stamford Bridge. Mourinho let it be known he had missed the final game of his son’s football season to be with Fábregas.
With Drogba, it was easy to tug at the heart strings. Mourinho signed him from Marseille for £24 million at the beginning of his first spell in charge in 2004 and together, they won trophies and built a special bond. Drogba went on to score 157 goals in 341 appearances for the club, putting him fourth on their all-time list while he won three Premier League titles, four FA Cups, two League Cups and the Champions League in 2012, when he scored the equaliser against Bayern Munich and the winning penalty in the shoot-out.
Drogba has joined as a free agent, with his contract at Galatasaray having expired at the end of last season, and he has signed to play, rather than to coach. “It was an easy decision,” Drogba said. “I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to work with José again. Everyone knows the special relationship I have with his club and it has always felt like home to me.”
Drogba’s return means Romelu Lukaku could again play elsewhere this season. The 21-year-old Belgium striker, who joined Chelsea for £18 million in 2011, has spent the last two seasons on loan at West Bromwich Albion and Everton, and Mourinho has not given the impression he fully trusts him. Ironically, Lukaku idolises Drogba. Everton want to sign Lukaku again, either on loan or permanently.
“Didier is coming because he’s one of the best strikers in Europe,” Mourinho said. “He is coming with the mentality to make more history.”