Chelsea's Ivorian striker Didier Drogba and his agents are reportedly ready to meet Zhu Jun, the owner of Shanghai Shenua on Tuesday, to discuss the 34 year old's future. The forward's contract with the London club runs out in the summer and despite an earlier IBTimes UK report suggesting the club had offered him a new deal, it is understood Drogba is in search of better prospects and a higher pay package, according to a Goal.com report.
If the latter report is true, Drogba may well be tempted to move to China, considering not only that former Blues team mate Nicolas Anelka is player-coach but the club would be willing to offer him a two-year £200,000 per week package.
However, Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard says Drogba's place in the Blues squad is irreplaceable and he is very "desperate" to convince the Ivorian forward to sign a new contract with the team. The 33 year old midfielder claims Chelsea will never be able to find a player like Drogba, who recently set a FA Cup record by scoring in four different finals of the competitions.
"He's unique. There is no-one like Didier as a player, not with the kind of bulldozer kind of thing he has got and with the sublime touch and finish that he has got," said Lampard, according to a Telegraph report.
"Everyone has to move on at some stage and you have to find a different player or different way of playing but for what he has done at this club, he deserves everything," the Daily Mail quoted Lampard as saying. Chelsea captain John Terry also feels Drogba is a very important asset for Chelsea
"Throughout the world when people look at Chelsea, they look at Didier, Lampard and these kind of players. They are Chelsea and Didier loves the club. We obviously have a massive Champions League final in two weeks but, hopefully, after that something can be thrashed out and he stays," the Independent quoted Terry as saying.
However, rather than contemplate Drogba's future, it might be advisable for Lampard and Terry to be concerned about their place in the Chelsea squad for next season, following club owner Roman Abramovich's threatened mass clear-out. The fact that interim manager Roberto Di Matteo has turned the club's fortunes on its head and the Blues will now contest the Champions League final on 19 May could save some heads but given the veteran status of most key players at Stamford Bridge, Abramovich will no doubt want to bring some fresh faces to his side.
Chelsea will next play Liverpool on Sunday and the Reds will be keen to exact revenge after their FA Cup final loss to the Blues. Kenny Dalglish's side were beaten 0-2 on the night, with goals from Ramires and Drogba. However, Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard said he felt his team put up a good fight and praised £35mn striker Andy Carroll.
"Credit to Andy, who came on and played brilliantly well. His form the last two or three months has been fantastic and he is pushing for a place back in the England squad," The Independent quoted Gerrard as saying.