In the wake of Didier Drogba’s announcement that he is to leave Chelsea this summer I have pondered about just where the Ivorian ranks amongst the Premier League’s best ever front-men.
In eight years as a Chelsea player, Drogba’s record matches up with most and he is leaving Stamford Bridge having accumulated an impressive haul of 10 major trophies, the most hard-earned and most significant of the lot of course being last Saturday’s Champions League win.
From the moment he signed for a seemingly over-inflated fee of £24 million to the moment he slotted the decisive penalty in the Champions League final and momentarily appeared to be worth that money a hundred times over, Drogba has been a captivating footballer to watch and I would almost certainly rank him as the best signing of the Roman Abramovic era.
To be labelled such a success is hugely complimentary given the enormous sums of money that Abramovic has poured into transfers and the following players provide just a small sample of the high profile and high valued signings which I would rank him above in a list of Roman’s greatest captures at Chelsea:Arjen Robben, Petr Cech, Ashley Cole, Fernando Torres, Michael Essien, Florent Malouda, Nicholas Anelka… the list could go on….
Indeed, there are few more flattering things that you could say about Drogba’s time in England than to label him “the best Abramovic-era signing” and perhaps the only greater context in which he could be placed as a Premier League footballer would be to rank him amongst the finest front-men ever to grace our top flight.
The bad side of Drogba:
I am in no doubt as to whether or not he deserves to leave behind him such a lofty legacy from his time in England. He has been phenomenal for Chelsea and though I have not always been particularly fond of him I do and always have rated him very highly indeed.
Below is my list of the best strikers ever to grace the Premier League…
The Top 10 (Not in Order):
1. Thierry Henry: The classy Frenchman combined raw pace with great technical ability and lethal finishing.
- Didier Drogba: Drogba has proved himself a master in the art of playing as a lone striker.
- Wayne Rooney: Rooney is arguably the most technically gifted centre-forward ever in the PL.
- Alan Shearer: Goals by the bucket load and an inspiring and down-to-earth demeanour.
- Eric Cantona: Goals, creation, skill, arrogance beyond compare and an overwhelming presence.
- Ruud Van Nistelrooy: Probably the best goal-poacher the PL has ever seen.
- Denis Bergkamp: Rooney’s rival in the technical ability department, oozed class.
- Fernando Torres: Prolific for Liverpool, not so far Chelsea thus far but could still be.
- Andy Cole: Great movement, great finisher. Shame he couldn’t re-produce it at international level.
- Michael Owen: If it weren’t for a string of long-term injury problems then he would have broken records.
Honourable Mentions: Robbie Fowler, Dwight Yorke, Nicolas Anelka, Robin Van Persie, Gianfranco Zola, Jurgen Klinsmann, Teddy Sheringham
For me Drogba is definitely one of the top five strikers to have played Premier League football and his contributions for Chelsea have been unrivalled throughout his time at the club. He may not have endeared himself to all Premier League fans given his penchant for a manic outburst at officials and for an over-dramatic collapse to the deck but few can question the enormity of his contributions to Chelsea and to the Premier League as a whole.
The great side of Drogba:
It was entirely fitting that Drogba not only scored the decisive spot-kick in the Penalty Shoot-out triumph against Bayern but also the thumping header deep into the ninety pre-planned minutes of play, and though he hasn’t always been my cup of tea I was thrilled to see him contribute more than any other in Chelsea’s success.
I would argue that even at the age of 34 that there is still no better player in world football at playing as a lone striker than Drogba and though I never thought I would say this… I will miss you Didier.