Skip to content

Didier Drogba signs in Turkey, reinforces Galatasaray’s headlining January

Jan 28, 2013, 2:11 PM EST

UEFA Champions League Final - Chelsea Training Getty Images

It’s not Chelsea or the much-rumored Juventus move that’s lingered over the last two months, but with his switch to Galatasaray, Didier Drogba is inching back onto our soccer radars. He’s also joining a huge club, will play in Champions League, and is likely set for another significant payday. Not a bad day for one of the world’s soccer icons.

That’s because a rumor that surfaced late last week, one that  linked Drogba with the Turkish leaders, has come to fruition. The Chelsea icon who scored the final penalty kick in May’s Champions League final will join the Istanbul giants on an 18-month deal, ending his sojourn in the Chinese Super League.

Drogba, who tallied 157 all-competition goals in his eight years at Stamford Bridge, moved to Shanhai Shenhua this summer. The deal make him one of the highest paid soccer players in the world, but disappointing results combined uncertainty at the club left Drogba and former Chelsea teammate Nicolas Anelka seeking offseason moves. Anelka has since confirmed a five-month Juventus loan that will see him miss the start of the Chinese Super League season. Drogba, after scoring eight goals in 11 games in China, is now set for a permanent move.

Drogba is currently with the Cote d’Ivoire national team participating in the Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa. Les Elephants have won their first two matches of the tournament, though in their 3-0 win over Tunisia on Saturday, Drogba was relegated to the bench for the first time in his international career. Despite his still prodigious reputation, a 34-year-old Drogba playing on three days rest may have been too much to ask so early in the tournament.

Despite those new limitations, expect Drogba’s move to elicit echoes of the reaction that met Wesley Sneijder’s signing. Fans will question why he’s moving to Gala when he was linked with other clubs, but as the circumstances behind Sneijder’s move showed, the Istanbul giants are more than a consolation prize. For a soon to be 35-year-old who is two and a half years removed from his best days, it’s may be the perfect level.

The Turkish league may not be at the same level of England or Italy’s, but the city is an attractive landing spot for players who have spent their careers in London, Madrid, and Milan. The meeting point between west and east makes Turkey’s biggest city one of the jewels of Europe, with a move to Galatasaray or Fenerbahçe giving players a chance to play in one of the world’s great derbies. Playing in front of some of the best crowds in world soccer, players moving to Istanbul can justify leaving Europe’s more renown leagues.

MORE: Perceptions of Sneijder, Drogba lodged in 2010.

Player’s like Sneijder can look to Anelka’s lucrative Fenerbahçe move in 2005 as reason to think Turkey need not be more than a stopover. For players like Drogba, there are far worse places to play out the last chapters of their career’s story.

And come February 20, Drogba will be back in Champions League. That’s when Galatasaray, beneficiaries of a weak group, will face Schalke in the Round of 16, and while we’re sure to hear exaggerated projections of what Sneijder and Drogba mean to Gala’snc, they may be enough to edge Turkey’s champions past the enigmatic Miners.

Still, there is a question of relevance. Gala’s not going to win Champions League, and with a gap between them and second in Turkey, Drogba may not matter domestically. The team already has a wealth of attacking options, from Turkish internationals Umut Bulut and Burak Yilmaz (who have already combined for 20 league goals) to Sweden’s Johan Elmander. On the field, it’s possible Drogba won’t bring Gala anything they wouldn’t have otherwise won.

But there’s a reason we care about this signing. Even as he plays out the last act of his career, there’s only one Didier Drogba. We care about his final seasons the same way we care about David Beckham’s and Thierry Henry’s. And today, one of the world’s truly unique players landed in another exciting local, one that will reinforce the Galatasaray name to a series of soccer fans who’d never bothered to care about Turkish soccer.

Latest Posts
  1. Stoke City 1-0 Hull City: Super sub Crouch stays hot, nabs Potters point

    Feb 28, 2015, 12:10 PM EST

    b0f8e07f8546f054f178b35c8325c107 Getty Images

    The giant Englishman scored less than a minute after subbing on for Mame Diouf, and Stoke stayed in the top half.

  2. Burnley 0-1 Swansea City: Own goal, Fabianski foil Clarets at Turf Moor

    Feb 28, 2015, 12:03 PM EST

    Burnley v Swansea City - Premier League Getty Images

    The three points moved Swansea ahead of West Ham for eight in the Premier League table.

  3. Manchester United 2-0 Sunderland: Rooney nets double to seal easy win

    Feb 28, 2015, 11:57 AM EST

    Manchester United v Sunderland - Premier League Manchester United v Sunderland - Premier League

    Rooney’s double sees off a stubborn Sunderland side to cement United’s spot in the top four.

  4. Newcastle United 1-0 Aston Villa: Cisse’s goal keeps Sherwood’s Villans in the drop zone

    Feb 28, 2015, 11:55 AM EST

    cd5e63930af01b2ae5ebb9355e08734b Getty Images

    Villa’s 22 points are even with Burnley and QPR, but their goal differential is the worst of the three.

  5. VIDEO: Allardyce “shocked” by West Ham’s two-goal loss to Crystal Palace

    Feb 28, 2015, 11:40 AM EST

    FBL-ENG-PR-WEST HAM-CRYSTAL PALACE Getty Images

    Mark the date as the moment Sam Allardyce’s long shot dreams of European football for West Ham all but died.

  6. WATCH: Aubameyang/Reus pull Batman/Robin celebration, then Reus makes a GK look silly

    Feb 28, 2015, 11:34 AM EST

    @Bundesliga @Bundesliga

    TheRevierderby was all Borussia Dortmund, which keeps climbing the Bundesliga table after a horrible start to the season.

  7. VIDEO: Alan Pardew delighted with two-goal hero Murray despite red card

    Feb 28, 2015, 11:15 AM EST

    Murray scores twice, gets red card in eventful outing at Upton Park.

  8. LIVE – Premier League, at the half: West Brom, Newcastle ahead; goalless elsewhere

    Feb 28, 2015, 10:55 AM EST

    Newcastle United v Aston Villa - Premier League Getty Images

    Goals are in short supply. See if they arrive in the second half by watching live, here.

  9. Watch Live: Stoke City vs. Hull City (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Feb 28, 2015, 9:44 AM EST

    Hull City v Stoke City - Premier League Getty Images

    Sone Aluko and Gaston Ramirez move last week’s hero Dame N’Doye to the bench, as the Tigers look to put together a three-match winning streak.

  10. Watch Live: Burnley vs. Swansea City (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Feb 28, 2015, 9:39 AM EST

    Britain Soccer Premier League AP

    Danny Ings will lead the charge for Burnley, which has controversially non-suspended Ashley Barnes in the Starting XI.

  11. West Ham United 1-3 Crystal Palace: Eagles win fiery London derby

    Feb 28, 2015, 9:39 AM EST

    Eagles soar past Hammers a Murray scores twice, gets red card.

  12. Watch Live: Newcastle United vs. Aston Villa (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Feb 28, 2015, 9:35 AM EST

    Aston Villa v Newcastle United - Premier League Getty Images

    Emmanuel Riviere gets a start for Newcastle, with Ayoze Perez heading for the bench. Cancer-battler Jonas Gutierrez is back in the 18 as well.

  13. Watch Live: West Bromwich Albion vs. Southampton (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Feb 28, 2015, 9:27 AM EST

    Koeman's arrival as boss has been key in steadying Saints. Getty Images

    Can the Baggies beat high-flying Saints? Watch live online, right here.

  14. Watch Live: Manchester United vs. Sunderland (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Feb 28, 2015, 9:08 AM EST

    Swansea City v Manchester United - Premier League Getty Images

    Can the Red Devils stay in the top four with a win? Watch live online, right here.

  15. WATCH: Premier League live online via NBC Sports Live Extra – Week 27

    Feb 28, 2015, 8:20 AM EST

    Live Extra

    How to watch every single PL game during Week 27 live online or via the app.

  16. Watch Live: West Ham United vs. Crystal Palace (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Feb 28, 2015, 7:33 AM EST

    Alan Pardew, Crystal Palace FC Alan Pardew, Crystal Palace FC

    How will Pardew get on as he returns to Upton Park? Watch live online, here.

  17. Odell Beckham Jr. appears on TV show in England, reveals former dream was to be a pro soccer player

    Feb 28, 2015, 7:20 AM EST

    Washington Redskins v New York Giants Getty Images

    Beckham chats with Sky Sports in the UK about his dream to play soccer, ‘that’ catch and much more.

  18. WATCH: Van Gaal remains coy over Manchester United’s league standing

    Feb 27, 2015, 11:46 PM EST

    Manchester United v Cambridge United - FA Cup Fourth Round Replay Getty Images

    Louis van Gaal speaks of Manchester United’s mindset at this stage of the season.

  19. Celtic aim to catch fans who violated UEFA policy with fireworks

    Feb 27, 2015, 10:50 PM EST

    Celtic Getty Images

    Celtic released a statement that urged fans to join hunt for the people who set off fireworks in Europa League competition and violated UEFA’s code of conduct.