Is Ivorian star mulling over a move to the UAE Pro League?
So Didier Yves Drogba Tébily (as his mother knows him) is a target for Diego Maradona’s Dubai side Al Wasl FC? Really? At the time of going to press, Al Wasl are saying they are ‘serious’ about signing Drogba. But lest we forget, this is a player who not a month ago was scoring the equalising goal and the winning penalty to scoop the Champions League for Chelsea. And now it’s his ambition to come to Dubai? Please.
Let’s give the UAE Pro League its due respect: it is a league trying desperately to be known for the football played on its pitches rather than the star names in its dugouts, and things are starting to move in the right direction. Last season, world stars such as Ghanaian Asamoah Gyan, Aussie Mark Bresciano and Chilean Luis Jimenez not only came here, but they stayed, they played and they scored goals. Expansion to a 14-team league next season will only help this progression.
But Drogba is different. This is one of the world’s top 10 players in his position over the past decade. Since announcing that the Champions League final would be his last game in Chelsea blue, he has openly courted Chinese side Shanghai Shenhua, where he would team up with former strike partner Nicolas Anelka.
Make no mistake, this would be an immensely lucrative move, and not one that Al Wasl would be able to compete with. Drogba has also thrown in Barcelona, one of the world’s richest clubs, as a potential destination. Just for good measure.
So, either he (or, more accurately, his agent) is using Al Wasl to add some more zeros to his contract talks in Shanghai, or Al Wasl are using his famous name to raise their world profile through the media. Either way, as much as we’d love to dream of the Ivorian megastar playing in the UAE, we won’t be holding our breath.
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Update - June 19: Drogba has signed for Shanghai Shenhua on a two-and-a-half-year contract worth a staggering Dhs143million.