Turkish club Galatasaray have reached a deal to sign Didier Drogba following his short stint with Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua.
The striker who is currently serving duty for his national team at the African Cup of Nations has agreed to an 18-month deal, as confirmed by the club on its website.
The 34-year-old left Premier League last year after guiding Chelsea to their maiden Champions League title.
Shanghai announced that Drogba will be paid $13.5 million (€10.04 million) for the 18-month period, with an additional bonus of $20,000 (~ €15,000) for each match played.
The striker wished to join a club outside the transfer window, but his requests were rejected by FIFA. Thereafter, he trained with Chelsea during the Chinese off-season in preparation for the Cup of Nations.
His former club Chelsea were confident of signing him for the second time around while he has been linked with top Serie A clubs like Juventus and AC Milan during the transfer window.
So, why did he join Galatasaray when he could have easily joined any Premier League clubs or for that matter any top clubs of a top league?
Drogba probably wouldn’t have signed for any other top Premier League clubs outside Chelsea, mainly out of loyalty. In his illustrious career with the West London club, he has had offers from top Europeans clubs but he remained a ‘true Blue’ for his best playing years.
During his nine-year stay at Stamford Bridge, he has achieved everything for the club. He has won domestic titles and cups, European glory, reached personal milestones and as consequence became a legendary figure at the club – what more can one ask for?
Further, he hasn’t been ditched by his former club, a situation faced by Frank Lampard at the moment. He was offered a contract extension last year, but he left the club on an amicable terms. Therefore, he doesn’t have any unfinished business left at the club which he must fulfill now.
Also, money is not central to this mooted move. Had that been the case, he would have stayed at China despite the boardroom wrangling that made life miserable during his six months stint.
Drogba wanted a fresh challenge for himself too. He said through his representatives, Sports PR Company, on Twitter:
… I am looking forward to playing in the Champions League again, against the best clubs in Europe.”
— Sports PR Company (@SportsPRCompany) January 28, 2013
However, is the lure of playing for Europe the only reason for this move? He could have easily played in Champions League had he signed for Juventus or Milan so the logic of his joining the Istanbul club primarily because of getting European games doesn’t cut through the treacle.
Of course, he wanted to play in Europe, which he addressed rightly, but most importantly he wanted a club, where too much burden won’t be inflicted on his shoulders anymore.
Gala presents the right platform for him considering his age and ambition. He is slowly approaching the end of his career, but he would still be playing for a European club where the pressure to deliver is far less than the other tougher leagues in the world.
Yet, the real impetus comes from the fact that he could be the real hero of the club in the truest sense by guiding them getting past the Round of 16 phase of Champions League if not beyond that (Gala will play Schalke 04 in the first knockout round).
The Turkish champions already signed Netherlands international Wesley Sneijder this month and their European campaign would be further boosted with this capture.