Where could Drogba go if a return to the Premier League beckons?
His departure to China shocked many of us but his return may be even more of a surprise as Premier League clubs standby to see if Didier Drogba will be returning to England's top-flight. Just where he will go, though, is the £250,000-a-week question.
The Daily Mail on Tuesday reported that financial problems at Shanghai Shenhua could lead to a very premature end to Nicolas Anelka and Didier Drogba’s careers in China.
While Anelka is unlikely to be able to draw in another big money contract in Europe, the scorer of Chelsea’s equaliser in last year’s Champions League final is likely to be able to demand some rather hefty weekly salary for one last time from a Premier League side.
But who would want the man who was arguably Chelsea’s greatest signing of their modern era?
The most likely place to start would be Stamford Bridge.
Drogba is seemingly still close to the side that brought him Europe’s top prize and it would be difficult to imagine the man who scored 159 goals for the Blues in his eight years at Stamford Bridge wearing any other Premier League teams’ shirt.
The fans, the players and even Roberto Di Matteo may still adore him, but a return to the Chelsea would be a huge step in the wrong direction after an excellent start to their title campaign.
Fernando Torres is playing without the looming figure of Drogba standing over him and looks every bit the player that many were expecting to see this season.
Combined with the immense skill of Eden Hazard and Spanish compatriot Juan Mata, Chelsea have built a team to play around their Spanish front man, but the arrival of Drogba could disrupt this fragile chemistry.
Di Matteo may well have been happy to get rid of one of the Chelsea “old guard” without being lambasted as Andre Villas-Boas would have been, and the Italian manager won’t want to see one of the old dressing room powers return to the Bridge again.
Unless Roman Abramovich stamps his foot, Drogba will not be coming back to Chelsea.
So where else would be a suitable destination for the Drog to be let lose?
Both Manchester clubs would be far from interested in the services of the 34-year-old forward that would cost at least another £100,000 to the weekly wage bill.
City have too many egos in their forward line battling for a starting spot, and Drogba would be behind Carlos Tevez and a fit Sergio Aguero, not to mention Roberto Mancini’s adopted son Mario Balotelli.
United, on the other hand, have just committed £70 million to Robin van Persie’s transfer and contract at Old Trafford, while Danny Welbeck has just penned a new 4-year extension with the Red Devils.
There is not short supply of strikers in the North West and Drogba’s wage demands are likely to price him out of contention with the two title favourites.
With the top three out of the picture Drogba could be staring at the sides in the battle for that final Champions League position.
Would Arsene Wenger be willing to break his wage cap at Arsenal for a striker that could help mould Olivier Giroud? That would be highly unlikely, although the thought of Santi Cazorla playing behind Drogba with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Lukas Podolski either side of him may have Gunners fans banging down the door of the Emirates.
Enter Liverpool and the Fenway Sports group.
Money isn’t much of a problem on the red half of Merseyside, as proved by the ridiculous amount of money spent on Charlie Adam, Jordan Henderson and the woeful Stewart Downing over the last 18-months.
More importantly, Liverpool need a finisher, badly.
Luis Suarez is already squandering chances like they were going out of fashion, while Fabio Borini is not a clinical finisher, especially if Brendan Rodgers continues to play him out on the flanks.
The powerful Ivorian is everything Liverpool’s forward line lacks.
Physicality, a deadly shot, and the ability to hold up play are still present in the elder striker and, with Suarez roaming around him freely, the Uruguayan genius would be given more space and time to operate in as defenders struggled to cover all of Rodger’s attacking options at once.
Liverpool also provide a potential final fling in the Champions League for Drogba if he stayed for longer then a season, as would Andre Villas-Boas’ Tottenham side.
There are, however, far more pressing issues that need to be addressed at Spurs, including a replacement for Luka Modric and a new goalkeeper.
That and the unlikely reuniting of AVB with one of his former Chlsea foes makes this move seemingly impossible, but Daniel Levy appears to be the man who pulls the strings with Spurs’ transfer prospects and a shock move to North London wouldn’t be totally out of the question.
Queens Park Rangers is the last possible landing spot for the striker in the Premier League. The attempts to turn Rangers into a top seven side have failed miserably so far, but the signing of a name like Drogba could turn the tide. Tony Fernandez loves to splash the cash, especially on wages, and the Champions League winner could be tempted down the league if the price is right.
He did go to China after all.
The speculation around Drogba’s Premier League future will continue to spin until Shanghai sort their financial predicament out, or until the next transfer window in January, but don’t right off Liverpool or QPR attempting to “let the Drogs out” on the Premier League once again.