As reports gather pace that Didier Drogba would be willing to return to Europe this month, Dave Taylor urges Juventus to snap up the former Chelsea ace.
When Giovanni Trapattoni, Italy’s most successful Coach, insists that Didier Drogba is perfect for Juventus then you have to sit up and take note. After winning every European and domestic trophy, including six Serie A titles with the Old Lady, his opinion cannot be ignored.
“Drogba would be ideal for Juve,” he emphasised. “He’d be perfect as he’d even be able to play in the Champions League. He has class, experience and alongside Mirko Vucinic would form a formidable strike partnership, good enough to mount a challenge in Europe.”
Under normal circumstances the signing of anyone – especially in the January transfer window – is a risk, but the Ivorian assassin certainly brings more to the table than he takes away. In a crucial match when you need a goal, there are few more capable than the Drog. He brings big game experience, power and a predatory style of football not seen with Juve since the exit of David Trezeguet.
Like a Gianluca Vialli, he can also be the first line of defence and a battering ram of a forward, who has defenders quaking in their boots before kick-off. For such a big man he also possesses an excellent technique and has countless wonderful goals behind him to prove it.
Last season there was a notable absence of goals scored by Juve’s front men. Yet this may not have been due to the strikers themselves, but with the support they were given and the roles they were allocated.
If Drogba does arrive and used as he should be, Juve may strategically evolve into a team at its ultimate technical and tactical potential. Imagine Drogba being fed by Juve’s clever hard-running wing-backs Stephan Lichtsteiner and Kwadwo Asamoah. They will offer him that extra critical metre of space, that vital split second of time that is all a top class striker needs to get into place and finish.
In Europe, at the moment, there is absolutely no-one with Drogba’s experience and quality that is eligible to play in the Champions League. Equally importantly he will be one of the very few in the Juve team with Champions League experience.
Juve made a mistake in buying Nicklas Bendtner and he has been either injured or simply poor. Of course Drogba will be a lot more expensive than the Dane, but you have to speculate to accumulate. His wage demands will be offset by the fact that there may be no transfer fee – or a nominal one. He would have to accept a drop in what he reportedly earns in the Chinese Super League, but any deficit will be made up with a massive bonus for either winning the Champions League outright or maybe even just reaching the finale. Factor in too the sponsorship that winning with Drogba will attract.
Some fans and critics think he is too old and feel Juve should be building for the future, but the Bianconeri want someone now to take them to the next level on the European stage. They have Fernando Llorente this summer for the future. Yet even so, at 34, Drogba’s age is almost immaterial with the modern fitness regimes around and he has kept in good shape and is a natural athlete.
Let’s not forget it was only last May that he was running riot against Barcelona, scoring the winning goal that helped put Chelsea into the Champions League Final. In the Final it was his penalty that beat Bayern Munich as Chelsea won the Cup. Since then he has been playing in China with Shanghai Shenhua, scoring eight goals in 11 games. He has been keeping fit by training with his former club Chelsea before this month’s African Cup of Nations.
Of course it’s easy to bring up the negatives, but don’t think that Beppe Marotta hasn’t thought this through. Of course the African Cup of Nations is a problem, but he will be back in time for any Champions League games unless the Ivory Coast make the Final. And if they do he will be returning bursting with enthusiasm and super-fit.
He is exactly what Juve need now, not tomorrow, but for today, for this season’s Champions League. It’s a gamble that is worth taking when one considers the rewards on offer.
To read the counter piece to this blog, on why Juve should not sign Drogba, please click here .