Al Wasl line up 'serious' bid for Chelsea legend Didier Drogba
EXCLUSIVE: UAE Pro League side Al Wasl are prepared to break the bank in a “serious” bid to bring ex- Chelsea striker Didier Drogba to Dubai, according to a club official.
However the Cheetahs’ former CEO Ashraf Ahmed Mohammed, the man who helped broker the deal that saw Diego Maradona arrive at the Zabeel Stadium, has questioned why the Champions League winner would want to move to the UAE.
Drogba, 34, is currently available on a free transfer after his deal with Chelsea expired at the end of the season and he has aroused interest at both Real Madrid and China’s Shanghai Shenhua.
Madrid boss Jose Mourinho is determined to convince the Ivory Coast international to stay in Europe for one more season but with close friend Nicolas Anelka and a reported £300,000 (Dh1.7 million) a week salary waiting in China, it appears Drogba could be on his way to Asia.
Reports emerged on Friday, though, that Wasl were ready to join the race for his signature with Maradona a known admirer of the former Marseille hitman. "Yeah, if Didier Drogba really wants to come to Al Wasl Club, I will welcome him at the Zabeel Stadium," the Argentine legend said back in December.
A major point of leverage for Wasl in the race to sign Drogba is his commitment towards charitable work and the Ivorian could be tempted if he is assured Dubai, with its many world-renowned charities, would be willing to back his own.
An official at the club told Sport360° that the Zabeel outfit is working hard to make the deal happen. “I have heard it is quite a serious effort to bring him to the club," the source said.
“He is a big player, a really big name. There is talk that he is trying to get support for his charitable causes so maybe there could be some connection there, but we will have to wait and see what happens.”
Ashraf, though, questioned where the Dubai club would get the money to compete with the wages on offer in China. “They cannot pay for local players but they will pay for Drogba? No, Drogba is asking for €10 million (Dh45.7m), the offer he has is €10m in China, who will pay that?” the former chief executive, axed shortly after securing the Maradona deal, said.
“I don’t know because I am not in the club but it is my personal opinion that I don’t think so. Drogba is a European Champions League champion, why would he come here?”
However, could the chance to work under the his boyhood hero growing up convince Drogba to turn down advances from Madrid and Shanghai to head for Dubai?
“Diego Maradona was a genius with the ball. Untouchable! I was particularly interested in how he plays with his left foot. I often watched videos and learned so much. I wanted to be like Maradona,” said Drogba.