The Ivory Coast international believes he has already proven himself on the pitch. Now, he wants to pick up a huge check, even if it means coming to MLS.Didier Drogba comes with a buyer beware label and it’s got nothing to do with the fact that the world-class striker is on the wrong side of 33 years old.
No, Drogba can still score goals but just so there is no misunderstanding he wants every club team from Russia to the United States to know that he’s in it for one thing: money.
Here is the brutally honest quote from Drogba’s agent Thiemo Seydi earlier this week after Camp Didier turned down Chelsea’s one-year contract offer: “At Didier's age, he has nothing left to prove as a player. He will go where he is offered the most money.”
Let’s give Seydi credit for saying what most agents and players won’t. And there’s nothing wrong with wanting a huge payoff in the twilight of a wonderful career.
But if the Los Angeles Galaxy, one of the club’s supposedly interested in Drogba, are looking for a goodwill ambassador to replace David Beckham they’d better think this one through before opening the vault.
There is no denying Drogba’s brilliance as a player and if he signed with the Galaxy he’d rival Thierry Henry as the top striker in Major League Soccer. But will Drogba be fully committed to making an impact on the field as opposed to just his bank account?
Beckham also came with a hefty price tag and early on and you wondered if his heart was really in it. That all changed this past season and right through the Galaxy’s run to the MLS Cup. Beckham proved he can still play, win and draw fans.
Drogba is a huge international name but he does not have the crossover appeal like Beckham. Very few do. But Drogba does have plenty of cache, having spent the prime years of his career with Chelsea and appearing in two World Cups with Ivory Coast.
In theory, the addition of Drogba with Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan would make the league’s most popular team the favorite to repeat. And MLS should be searching for “name” players who still have three to five years of quality soccer left in them.
For now, getting major international stars at the tail end of their respective careers is the most logical way for MLS teams to augment their mostly anonymous rosters. But that is not a fail-proof formula. For Exhibit A we present you Lothar Matthäus with the MetroStars and for Exhibit B Rafa Marquez with New York Red Bulls.
The former was essentially on a New York vacation while the latter plays as if he’s been sentenced to hard time at San Quentin State Prison.
Drogba is no longer a regular in Chelsea’s starting XI but he’s very much a top-flight striker. Why else would Chelsea offer him a contract extension and why would AC Milan try to acquire him via a loan?
Everything about it makes a lot of sense for MLS and the Galaxy, especially with Beckham likely to sign with a French team. But just remember one thing: Didier isn’t coming for cents. He wants dollars. Lots of them.
Buyer beware indeed.