Drogba announces he will leave Chelsea next month
LONDON - Agence France-Presse
Ivorian striker Didier Drogba bowed out to Chelsea fans on a high note, scoring the winning penalty against Bayern in the CL final. AFP photoNewly-crowned European champions Chelsea confirmed yesterday that Ivory Coast striker Didier Drogba will leave the club when his contract expires at the end of June.
Drogba has been at the London club since 2004, joining from French side Marseille.
The 34-year-old scored a late equalizer against Bayern Munich in the Champions League final on Saturday and then converted the decisive penalty in a dramatic shoot-out after extra-time.
“I wanted to put an end the speculation and confirm that I am leaving Chelsea,” he told Chelsea’s website.
“It has been a very difficult decision for me to make and I am very proud of what we have achieved, but the time is right for a new challenge for me.”
English media have linked the Ivorian target man - scorer of 55 goals in his 84 international appearances - with Chinese side Shanghai Shenhua, where his former Chelsea teammate Nicolas Anelka is player-coach.
“Didier is undoubtedly a Chelsea legend and will always be part of the Chelsea family,” Chelsea chief executive Ron Gourlay said.
“He is certainly leaving on a high after Saturday night but he feels the time is right for a new challenge.
“We have known for some time that this outcome was likely but Didier and the club only made a final decision on that in the last couple of days, because for obvious reasons neither Didier nor the club wanted to distract focus away from the Champions League Final.
“The talks were amicable all the way through and we wish him all the best for the future. He is welcome back to Stamford Bridge at any time - either as a player or as a guest of ours.”
Turkish Spor Toto Super League champion Galatasaray is also reportedly interested in signing the powerhouse forward.
Drogba scored 100 goals in 221 Premier League games at Chelsea.