DIDIER DROGBA may be coming to ISL. It's not final yet, the talks are in the early stage, but for now, the rumour is going strong. One or more ISL franchises are pursuing the Chelsea legend and if the move happens it will be massive.
It hasn't been declared which team(s) are in the Drogba scene right now, but the TOI article that broke the rumour was reported from Chennai. Now, Chennaiyin FC, as we know, has an owner in Abhishek Bachchan who is an avid Chelsea fan. They even use almost the same shade of blue as their home colour as Chelsea. Add to that: their forward line looks quite incomplete right now: Fikru, Jeje and Balwant do not a threatening attack make. And they are not shy of chasing big game in the transfer market; last year they made headlines with their well-publicised pursuit of Ronaldinho that ultimately did not materialise. So, there is a good chance that it is Chennaiyin FC who is the franchise behind the whole Drogba affair.
Although there are several reasons why these talks may fall through, and money is only one of them. (ISL now enforces a Rs 20 crore salary cap for every franchise) But the very act of being in talks to sign Drogba excites fans and generates a lot of hype around the ISL brand; and that can't hurt at all.
There are genuine reasons to be excited about Drogba playing in the ISL. Apart from being a heartthrob of Chelsea fans around the world, he is one of the few global ambassadors of the game, with influence and persona that transcends the sport itself.
As a player, his stats are monumental. 446 appearances for farious top clubs across the world including Chelsea, Marseille and Galatasaray. 178 goals, 104 of which came in a Chelsea shirt. He played 104 matches for his national team Ivory Coast and scored 65 goals. He scored the equalizer and the penalty that won Chelsea the UEFA Champions League. He won 4 Premier Leagues and 4 FA Cups, 3 League Cups and 2 Community Shields with Chelsea. At Galatasaray he helped them win the Turkish Super Lig, Cup and Super Cup treble. He led Ivory Coast to their first World Cup qualification, three World Cup appearances, and two African Cup of Nations finals, both of which they lost on penalties.
But for many he has been much more than a footballer. At a time when Ivory Coast was torn apart by civil war, he repeatedly made appeal for peace and forgiveness. In an iconic television appeal made right after Ivory Coast had qualified for their first ever FIFA World Cup participation, he led the entire team in a solemn plea to the nation, on bended knees, imploring the people to "forgive, forgive, forgive." And it worked. After five years of bitter war, Ivory Coast finally saw a ceasefire agreement. Soon afterwards, Costa Rica's African Cup of Nations qualifier match against Madagascar to Bouake, a town long held by the rebel faction and excluded from such events. For many, it was the first time they got to see their beloved football superstars play in front of them. The match was a landmark in the peace process.
Drogba has worn many hats, inside and outside football. From constructing hospitals through Didier Drogba Foundation to being a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Development Programme, he has created a strong legacy of positive social change. And he has played regular Premier League football throughout the 2014-15 season so he has not been away from professional football before coming to ISL, unlike many of the "marquee" signings made by franchises so far. So make no mistake, if a true sporting legend like him puts on the jersey of an ISL franchise come October, it wil be a big deal in more ways than one.