A day after cooling talk of Didier Drogba’s summer exit, Chelsea have confirmed on their official website that the Champions League final hero will no longer don the club’s blue shirt next season.
Drogba, who headed home a massive equalizer to send Saturday’s clash with Bayern Munich to extra time and also scored the decisive spot-kick to seal the Blues’ first ever Champions League title, leaves the club on extremely friendly terms in pursuit of a new challenge.
Chelsea Chief Executive Ron Gourlay was congratulatory in describing the Ivory Coast striker’s farewell and stated that the 34-year old has carved his name in the club’s record books as a legendary figure.
“Didier is undoubtedly a Chelsea legend and will always be part of the Chelsea family. He is certainly leaving on a high after Saturday night but he feels the time is right for a new challenge,” Gourlay explained at the club’s official website.
He added: “Of course Didier has contributed so much to all of Chelsea’s recent successes. He has been a consummate professional during his entire time here and as one of the natural leaders in our squad he has been an inspiration to a lot of our younger players.”
Drogba was consistently linked with a move away from Stamford Bridge during the eight-month reign of Andre Villas-Boas but like most Chelsea veterans, he rediscovered sizzling form under interim boss Roberto Di Matteo in the last two months.
Gourlay acknowledged that the protracted nature of Drogba’s transfer status did not assure the club about retaining the striker but argued that putting too much spot light on his future could have been detrimental.
“We have known for some time that this outcome was likely but Didier and the club only made a final decision on that in the last couple of days, because for obvious reasons neither Didier nor the club wanted to distract focus away from the Champions League final,” Gourlay asserted.
“The talks were amicable all the way through and we wish him all the best for the future. He is welcome back to Stamford Bridge at any time – either as a player or as a guest of ours,” he concluded.
Drogba’s contract will expire at the end of June but the destination of the prolific free agent remains unknown.