Skip to content

Juventus interested in Didier Drogba? That’s news to Antonio Conte

Jan 5, 2013, 9:32 AM EDT

Ivorian soccer player Didier Drogba who plays for Shanghai Shenhua in China attends the African soccer player awards ceremony in Accra Reuters

This rumor’s been around since the end of the Chinese Super League season: Didier Drogba, having finished his first season with Shanghai Shenhua, is looking to come back to Europe, with Italian champions Juventus being prominently linked.

Let’s wait a second before detailing the various levels on which that’s problematic. For now, what’s important is Juventus’s lack of interest, per reports (this one from ESPN).

Here’s head coach Antonio Conte with a well-articulated scoff at the persisting rumors:

“I keep reading about Drogba, but the club never proposed him to me or vice-versa. There are economic parameters to be taken into account. Transfers must be intelligent and low-cost.”

In China, Drogba is one of the highest paid players in the world, and while it’s no guarantee he’ll demand in same compensation on a return to Europe (be that return temporary or permanent semi-temporary), he’s still going to be expensive. If there’s any team in Italy that can afford that type of player, it’s Juventus, but as Conte says, that doesn’t mean the deal makes sense.

With eight goals in 11 appearances, Drogba was effective in China, but at 34 years old and slightly removed from his last days at Chelsea, there could be some concern about his ability to play to previous levels. It’s a concern I’d dismiss under most circumstances, but if one of those circumstances entails paying Drogba has if he’s among the best attackers in Europe, that would require me being 100 percent certain he’d be an elite player for the deal to work out. And that level of certainty’s near-impossible to reach.

There’s also the little issue of Drogba being under contract with Shanghai Shenhua. It’s no guarantee he’ll be allowed to move, given the CSL’s March re-start. Regardless, his contract status will only add to the cost.

For some clubs, Drogba will still make sense, but as Conte discusses, Juventus might have other options. Though Drogba would fill the Old Lady’s last glaring need, Italy’s holders could look west instead of east, with Athletic Bilbao’s Fernando Llorente in focus:

 “Llorente is a Spanish international and has done very well at Bilbao, so he is an appetising prospect. If we have the chance to sign a big player on a free transfer and he chooses us, then good.

“I can certainly say that, a year ago, Llorente wouldn’t have taken us into consideration, but we are back to a high level and are now very appealing to big players.”

Asked if he would be surprised to see Llorente arrive this month, Conte replied: “Yes, because he is an Athletic Bilbao player.”

Of course, in talking about Llorente coming on a free transfer, Conte’s implicitly casting this deal as a summer move, one which would happen after the Athletic target man’s contract expires after the season. The threat of pre-contract agreement might compel Athletic to sell this winter, but for the deflated price they’d get for a player at the end of a deal, it might not be worth it.

All of which brings us back to the question underlying all these rumors: What’s Juventus going to to about their forward situation? Right now, Conte’s relying on Mirko Vucinic, Sebastian Giovinco, Fabio Quagliarella, and Alessandro Matri. While there’s talent in the group, there haven’t been many goals: 18 in 52 appearances.

If there’s no Drogba or Llorente in January, then who? Perhaps the answer is “nobody,” a response that will draw the ire of Juve fans expecting the team to make a Champions League run.

Latest Posts
  1. Gervinho’s requests for helicopter, private beach end transfer interest of UAE club

    Jun 30, 2015, 7:04 PM EDT

    gervinho AP

    The Ivorian international, 28, appeared set for a 4-year deal worth about $14.5 million.

  2. FOLLOW LIVE: Copa America — Argentina and Paraguay battle for title date with Chile

    Jun 30, 2015, 6:41 PM EDT

    Argentina v Bosnia-Herzegovina: Group F - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Getty Images

    There hasn’t been a single clean sheet kept in a match-up of these two teams since 2010. Should be a fun one.

  3. WATCH LIVE: The USWNT takes on Germany in the Women’s World Cup semifinals (Lineups, Live Stream)

    Jun 30, 2015, 6:12 PM EDT

    aaaalloyd Getty Images

    Lauren Holiday and Megan Rapinoe return from their yellow card suspensions to play starting roles in Tuesday’s Women’s World Cup semifinal.

  4. Reports: Galaxy on verge of landing El Tri star Dos Santos as “core player”

    Jun 30, 2015, 5:51 PM EDT

    VILLARREAL, SPAIN - DECEMBER 21:  Giovani Dos Santos of Villarreal in action during the La Liga match between Villarreal CF and Deportivo de La Coruna at El Madrigal on December 21, 2014 in Villarreal, Spain.  (Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images) Getty Images

    There’s haves, have nots and have a lots, and the Los Angeles Galaxy are in the final category.

  5. Knee injury forces Brad Davis out of Gold Cup; USMNT set to add Greg Garza

    Jun 30, 2015, 4:45 PM EDT

    HOUSTON, TX - MARCH 28:  Brad Davis #11 of the Houston Dynamo sits on the pitch during their game against the Colorado Rapids at BBVA Compass Stadium on March 28, 2015 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images) Getty Images

    A long-standing right bone bruise will keep the Houston Dynamo midfielder out of the upcoming Gold Cup.

  6. Report: Sepp Blatter will not attend Women’s World Cup final

    Jun 30, 2015, 4:04 PM EDT

    FIFA president Sepp Blatter gestures as he speaks during  a press conference on May 30, 2015 in Zurich after being re-elected during the FIFA Congress. Blatter said he was "shocked" at the way the US judiciary has targeted football's world body and slammed what he called a "hate" campaign by Europe's football leaders.  AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINI        (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    An incredibly-confident man who branded himself the “Godfather of women’s football” certainly won’t relish sitting this one out.

  7. WATCH LIVE: Quarterfinal spots up for grabs in US Open Cup fifth round

    Jun 30, 2015, 3:45 PM EDT

    US Open Cup trophy Getty Images

    How to stay in touch with all the Open Cup action in Tuesday’s four games.

  8. Nigel Pearson fired as manager by Leicester City

    Jun 30, 2015, 3:11 PM EDT

    Nigel Pearson, Leicester City FC Nigel Pearson, Leicester City FC

    Foxes decide to fire Pearson despite the greatest of “great escapes” during the 2014-15 season.

  9. Top goalkeepers Hope Solo, Nadine Angerer clash in USA-Germany semifinal

    Jun 30, 2015, 2:20 PM EDT

    OTTAWA, ON - JUNE 26: Hope Sollo of USA smiles during the FIFA Women's World Cup 2015 Quarter Final match between China and United States at Lansdowne Stadium on June 26, 2015 in Ottawa, Canada.  (Photo by Lars Baron - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images) Getty Images

    The two best goalkeepers in the world square off in the Women’s World Cup semifinals.

  10. NBC Sports to air Barclays Asia Trophy as Arsenal, Everton and Stoke head to Singapore

    Jun 30, 2015, 1:29 PM EDT

    PremierLeagueNBC

    Find out how to watch the preseason tournament in Singapore live, here.

  11. How should USWNT line up against Germany in World Cup semifinal?

    Jun 30, 2015, 12:43 PM EDT

    China v United States: Quarter Final - FIFA Women's World Cup 2015 China v United States: Quarter Final - FIFA Women's World Cup 2015

    With a huge World Cup encounter hours away, USWNT head coach Jill Ellis has a lot to ponder.

  12. Petr Cech pens emotional farewell letter to Chelsea fans after Arsenal move

    Jun 30, 2015, 11:50 AM EDT

    FC Bayern Muenchen v Chelsea FC - UEFA Champions League Final Getty Images

    The Chelsea legend has left Stamford Bridge with a heavy heart after 11 years of success.

  13. 2017 UEFA Champions League final to be held at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium

    Jun 30, 2015, 10:43 AM EDT

    Millennium Stadium Millennium Stadium

    Gareth Bale now has the chance to lift the UCL trophy in his hometown.

  14. Foot injury forces DF Hector Moreno to withdraw from Mexico’s 2015 Gold Cup squad

    Jun 29, 2015, 11:25 PM EDT

    Hector Moreno, Mexico — 2014 World Cup Hector Moreno, Mexico — 2014 World Cup

    A huge blow for Mexico as an injury will keep Mexico’s best defender off their Gold Cup squad.

  15. Club president: Ronaldinho has agreed terms with Turkish side Antalyaspor

    Jun 29, 2015, 10:26 PM EDT

    Ronaldinho, Queretaro — Liga MX (Mexico) Ronaldinho, Queretaro — Liga MX (Mexico)

    Ronaldinho is on the move again, and (thankfully) he’s not coming to MLS.

  16. Chile 2-1 Peru: Vargas’ wondergoal puts the hosts through to Copa America final (video)

    Jun 29, 2015, 9:23 PM EDT

    Eduardo Vargas, Chile — 2015 Copa America semifinal Eduardo Vargas, Chile — 2015 Copa America semifinal

    Chile will play for their first Copa America title on Saturday. A chance to make history at home.

  17. Dutch FA terminates Guus Hiddink’s contract amid EURO 2016 qualifying struggles

    Jun 29, 2015, 8:31 PM EDT

    Guus Hiddink, Netherlands Guus Hiddink, Netherlands

    Guus Hiddink is out as Dutch national team manager after less than a year in charge. Who do they turn to now, ahead of EURO 2016?

Featured video

PST Extra: Sterling & latest transfer gossip