Drogba: There is more to come
Didier Drogba claimed he still had at least two years left to give at the highest level after rescuing Chelsea from the threat of Champions League elimination.
Drogba was at his bulldozing best with two goals in the Blues' 3-0 win over Valencia on Tuesday night, which ensured they avoided crashing out of the competition before Christmas for the first time ever. The 33-year-old's current deal expires in the summer and he is free to sign a pre-contract with a rival club in less than a month's time.
He has already pledged not to walk away in January amid reports he will not budge in his quest for a two-year extension, despite only one year being offered. When asked if he still had a couple of years left in him among the elite, Drogba said: "I hope so."
The striker, who did not sign his first professional contract until he was 21, added: "I started late at a high level. I was 25 when I started to play my first Champions League games. I feel happy, I feel good on the pitch, I'm really enjoying myself, my football. When we're winning like this, I'm really delighted."
Drogba refused to elaborate on the prospect of him staying beyond next summer, though.
"My future, really, is not very important," he said. "When the time will come, we'll speak about it. But, at the moment, we don't need to."
Winger Juan Mata, who set up both of Drogba's goals on Tuesday night, wants his team-mate to stay, saying: "It is an individual decision between the club and Didier but for us it is important to have strikers like Didier, Fernando Torres and Salomon Kalou."
Two weeks ago, the club appeared to hold all the aces in contract negotiations, with Drogba having scored just once in a season that saw him suffer a sickening head injury, get sent off in the west London derby and undergo arm surgery.
He said: "Injuries didn't help, the knock on the head, and the red card. Plus the surgery on my arm didn't help me to get my fitness. But now I'm having a little bit more games so I hope it's going to come back quickly."
Indeed, despite starting five of Chelsea's last six games and his vintage performance on Tuesday, Drogba denied he was back to his best, saying: "Not yet. I have lost a lot of goals, and I hope this is something that my fitness will help me to improve."