Didier Drogba has confirmed that he will leave Premier League champions Chelsea this summer as he seeks to prolong his playing career by at least one further season.
The Ivorian, who spent eight years at Stamford Bridge between 2004-12 and originally signed off in some style with the winning penalty against Bayern Munich to secure the club's first Champions League triumph, returned to sign a one-year contract last July following brief stints with Shanghai Shenua and Galatasaray.
Drogba has featured predominantly as a substitute for Jose Mourinho's side this term and while his considerable know-how will have no doubt been a crucial factor in their first title success since 2010, a record of seven goals in all competitions was clearly not enough to suggest he could play a prominent role next season.
"I want to play for at least one more season and in order to play more football I feel I need to go to another club," Drogba announced via Chelsea's official website shortly before the final game of a dominant top-flight campaign at home to Sunderland.
"All the fans know my love for Chelsea and I hope to be back here in the future in another role."
Chelsea were understandably quick to praise Drogba's latest contribution, pointing to his significant trophy haul during his two separate spells in West London and stressing the importance of his experience and personality.
"Everyone at Chelsea Football Club would like to thank Didier for his fantastic service and he is always welcome back to Stamford Bridge," the club added.
"We are sure all our fans would like to join us in wishing him well for the future and thanking him for giving us so many wonderful memories."
Drogba's admission that he will not remain at Chelsea will leave Mourinho almost certain to sign at least one new striker during the upcoming transfer window.
Diego Costa, now back fit after his latest struggle with a recurring hamstring problem, will surely remain as first-choice yet it is unlikely the manager will be willing to rely on only Loic Remy alone to provide the necessary cover.
In-form Aston Villa forward Christian Benteke, Paris Saint-Germain's Uruguayan international Edinson Cavani and Napoli marksman Gonzalo Higuain are the latest players to be linked with possible transfers and Chelsea also have an exciting young prospect of their own in the form of 21-year-old Middlesbrough loanee Patrick Bamford.
Drogba's exit from Chelsea comes just weeks after John Terry expressed his hope that the 37-year-old would stay and continue to fulfill his 'massive' role.
"Let's hope he's in the camp next season," the long-serving captain said after the title-clinching win over Crystal Palace.
"He's got a massive part to play on and off the field. He's shown that on the field but off the field he really has got a massive part to play."