Rumours have circulated in the past fortnight not only that Manchester City were interested in acquiring Didier Drogba but that Chelsea were also considering selling him. With a transfer bid for Neymar of Brazil in the reckoning and the urge made public to trim the squad playing size, wage bill and transform the club into a self efficient business, it appeared Chelsea might actually sell one of their prized assets.
Drogba might have just had his most successful individual campaign for Chelsea in the previous season but he is 32 years old and his talents will surely start to wane soon enough. If Manchester City were willing to offer close to £20 million, even now in spite of the denial, it would be hard to believe that Chelsea would refuse the offer. As it stands, however, Chelsea have refused all the suggestions and intimated Didier Drogba is going to stay. The mere idea that Manchester City were capable and quite close to stealing one of Chelsea’s best players is revealing, in the least, and painful, at best. At what stage does the game cease to be dominated by money? It might not be a hard currency but the idea of loyalty and history, personal and collective, surely transcends a transfer fee and a bigger wage packet. For £20 million would Chelsea want to be known as the club that move their stars on? For an alleged 50% wage increase would Didier Drogba want to be known as a mercenary striker, adored by no one set of fans, and remembered for the transfer more than his success at Chelsea? Is it all about bank balances?
A large appeal of the game of football is it’s history but it appears, once money is involved, it becomes less important. Inevitably money forms much of the history and has lent as much, in some respects, to its creative process over time as goals and trophies. Football history is not just the goal Zinedine Zidane scored in the Champions League final against Bayer Leverkusen but it is also the record transfer fee Zidane set a couple of seasons earlier when he moved from Juventus to Real Madrid. If money were to end up being the dominant factor in the creation of football history then it becomes a case of the deepest pockets writes the greatest stories. The authors have no credibility in such a context.
The fact that Chelsea refused to sell and Didier Drogba, allegedly, ended up declining to go is a victory for football. Money can’t buy everything, although in football it comes close, and the game is better for that fact, not worse.