Chelsea were last night planning 11th-hour talks with Didier Drogba in an attempt to reach an agreement on extending his contract at the end of a day where the Ivorian was quoted as saying he’s leaving, remarks the striker’s representatives later claimed he didn’t make.
The club refused to bow to the 34-year-old’s demands for a new two-year deal earlier this season.
Reports yesterday claimed that even if a compromise was to be reached, the Blues may have to pay Shanghai compensation after he agreed to join the Chinese side on a wage said to be £250,000 a week.
Drogba’s Chelsea team-mate Gary Cahill is hopeful the Ivorian will stay.
He said: “If you ask every player at the football club, you’d hope that he stays. But he’s obviously got his own decision to make.’’
It seemed Drogba’s time as Stamford Bridge was at an end after he was reported by France Football magazine to have confirmed he was leaving the European Cup winners.
Drogba was reported to have broken down in tears on Sunday night as he told his Chelsea team-mates that he would be leaving west London and confirmed he will not move to one of Europe’s top leagues.
Instead he will head off “for another adventure”.
Drogba’s departure would come as a blow to the Chelsea players who led chants of ‘Dider must stay!’ during Sunday’s victory bus parade.
After the journey, Drogba asked the bus to stop at a school gymnasium in Putney where the club’s whole staff were present for his farewell speech.
As he said the words, “We will no longer be together next season,” his voice broke and he started crying.
“When you’re given leadership, you must respect the responsibility to the end,” he explained.
“I did not want to slip out like a thief in the night, or for my team-mates to learn of my departure from the TV. As I had decided to leave, I wanted to look them in the eye — except I was not able to do it. I cracked.
“Even though it’s been three years since I said I wanted to leave, at that moment, I found it hard to admit that it’s over with this club. Especially since I did not see it ending like this.
“But I could not see myself sitting down on a bench watching others play when the club plans to set up a new team. I’m not relieved, I am especially sad to leave such good guys. But there it is, I’m preparing for my leap into the void, into the unknown. It’ll be another adventure.”
Drogba dismissed speculation that Manchester United may be his next destination by insisting he would never play for another English club.
“If I must leave it will be for adventure that’s totally different from the big leagues. First, because there is no question I would play for anyone else in England other than Chelsea — and also, because I don’t know what I could get in Spain, Italy or Germany, in these countries that I don’t already know. I don’t want to start an ordinary adventure elsewhere. I’m more attracted to a new life.”
Meanwhile Roberto Di Matteo could be made to sweat over his Chelsea future until his contract expires, chief executive Ron Gourlay admittedlast night.
Blues owner Roman Abramovich is refusing to be rushed into making a decision about the club’s next permanent manager, despite the clamour for caretaker boss Di Matteo to be rewarded for masterminding the greatest climax to a season in their history.
Reports suggest Abramovich would only be prepared to offer the Champions League-winning Di Matteo a one-year trial, something that would allow him to approach Pep Guardiola once the Barcelona boss completes his one-year sabbatical.
Gourlay said: “We now need to sit down over the next week or two, or however long it takes, because we have to do what’s right for the club. I know the fans will be pushing for Robbie. We’re going to look at the season, look at what worked for us, look at the mistakes we made and put them right and take it forward.”
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