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Thursday, May 01, 2008

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Drogba: Inter? Not For Today
Chelsea striker Didier Drogba has hinted he may be staying on at Stamford Bridge this summer, contrary to all speculation suggesting otherwise.

As soon as Jose Mourinho was unceramoniously shown the door at Stamford Bridge in October, no one amidst the Chelsea troops seemed to take it quite as hard as Drogba.The Ivorian was particularly attached the Portuguese coach, and there have since been innumerous rumours linking him with whichever club the self-proclaimed Special One next chooses to manage.Milan, Barcelona and Real Madrid have all been mentioned on a regular basis, the the recent frontrunners for the player's signature - at least according to much of the press - are Internazionale.After Roberto Mancini's faux-resignation on the back of their Champions League exit at the hands of Liverpool, rumours have been rife that the former Italian international is going to be replaced this summer, despite guiding them to what is almost certain to be consecutive league titles.

That's where Mourinho comes in, and Drogba is rumoured to follow. However, the outspoken striker who first revealed his desire to leave to France Football several months ago, has now seemingly backtracked on what many had already set in stone as a summer departure.His change of heart may have come off the back of the Blues' incredibly strong end to the season and, should they claim the league, the Champions League, or incredibly, both, we may see the former Marseille man stay with Avram Grant and company for a few more years yet.
"People are sending me everywhere, but I still have two years on my contract," he said. "I only have the end of the season with Chelsea on my mind.
"Stories I am going to Inter with Jose Mourinho? I know, I know. It's very flattering, but not for today."


The eccentric powerhouse also assured that the on-field spat between he and match-winner Michael Ballack during the Manchester United game on Saturday has been forgotten and that the two are getting along fine.Ballack himself expressed a similar view directly after the game, but speculation was ongoing that Drogba still harboured resentment, but this has been denied by the striker.He went on to praise the German international, revealing his great respect for him and hailing him as Chelsea's most important player at the moment, as he has recently come into great form following a horrible start to his Chelsea career that was blighted by injury.
"It was 1-1, we absolutely had to score and we had this free-kick we both wanted to take because we both thought we'd score," explained Drogba.

"I had a good feel for it and so did he. There was a lot of tension and emotion on the pitch, it was a big match and, yes, we did have a clash.
"These are things that happen. Five minutes later, it was all forgotten. Ballack is a person I particularly respect as a player and a man.
"He has had a terrible time this season, but has come back very strong. He makes the difference. He is Chelsea's most important player at the moment."

Chet Winter

Robben eyes Drogba swoop
Winger would love to see former team-mate at Real

Real Madrid winger Arjen Robben would welcome the signing of Chelsea striker Didier Drogba to the Bernabeu.
Drogba's future at Stamford Bridge remains uncertain after he publicly confessed his desire to leave the club in an interview with France Football magazine earlier this season.
On Wednesday, the Ivory Coast international moved to cool talk of an exit following fresh reports from Italy claiming he is set to join Serie A side Internazionale in the summer.
Real boss Bernd Schuster has previously expressed his liking of Drogba, and former Blues midfielder Robben has echoed his manager's thoughts after playing alongside the powerful forward during his three years at Chelsea.

The best

"For me, he is a great striker, one of the best in the world," Robben told Sky Sports News.
"He is unbelievably strong. He can score a lot of goals. Last season, when I was at Chelsea, he was probably the most important player at the club.
"He is not only a good footballer, he is a great person. I would really like it if he came here, but it is not up to me to decide.
"We also have a lot of great players here, so we will see what happens."

Rijkaard nudges Chelsea as Barca axe looms

MANCHESTER (AFP) - Frank Rijkaard insists that he has no plans to quit Barcelona but that did not stop him highlighting his credentials as a purveyor of the beautiful game to potential employers that include Chelsea's Roman Abramovich.
A Champions League semi-final defeat by Manchester United here on Tuesday has left Barca's coach facing the sack at the end of another trophy-less season but it is certain the amiable and articulate Dutchman will not be without work for long.
Avram Grant may have guided Chelsea to within sight of both the Premier League and Champions League trophies but even his closest friends would not claim that he has got close to delivering the fluid, attacking football that Abramovich craved sufficiently to ditch Jose Mourinho one month into the season.
Silverware may yet save Grant's skin but the odds on there being a vacancy at Stamford Bridge this summer remain short, and Rijkaard looks increasingly like the favourite to fill it.
In that context, it was notable that, in the wake of Tuesday's defeat, he opted to qualify his praise for English clubs' current domination of the Champions League with an expression of regret that they do not play with more flair. Rijkaard regrets that the entertainment value of England's domestic competitions is not matched by performances of the country's leading clubs in Europe.

"Results are very important of course, but I think they also have a lot more to give on the pitch to the public," he said.
"Their style is different in Europe and that is why it is successful. I think it started with the foreign coaches who have organised things very well and they have great players.
"But sometimes it is a pity because it is not the most beautiful way of football."
"The level of the English teams now is very high," Rijkaard acknowledged. "If it were not for the fact they had to play against each other, we could easily have seen four teams in the semis.
"They are very difficult to beat, very strong and very disciplined. In European games they all get behind the ball when they lose it, they are very well organised and play on the counter attack. It is really tough to beat English teams."
Despite that gracious acknowledgement of how the balance of power in European football has shifted,Sir Alex Ferguson, did not dispute Rijkaard's suggestion that United's tactics over the two legs of the semi-final had been cautious, admitting he had stressed to his players the importance of denying Barca space in midfield.
The tactic worked well with the Catalans largely restricted to shots from outside the box in both legs of the tie.

"If you try and meet them too early they can open you up because they always have an extra man in midfield," Ferguson reflected. "I think what Frank means is that we did not go hell for leather, trying to defend too early. I think he would have liked that if we had."
Rijkaard's removal from the hot seat at the Nou Camp is now regarded as inevitable in Catalonia, but the Dutchman insisted he would not walk away from the club he guided to Champions League glory three years ago.
"That thought has not entered my head," he insisted. "I have no intention of leaving.
"It would be a different case if the players were saying it was time to go but that is not the case. Barcelona are a massive club and there are people to take the decisions at the end of the season if decisions need to be taken."
Rijkaard admitted his side's lack of a cutting edge had cost them the chance of a place in next month's final in Moscow.
"We did everything but score," he said. "It was a very even game, if anything we had the better of the play. But the rules are that the team that scores goes through and they did that."
Lippi: England ? No Good Players !

Marcello Lippi says that it will be virtually impossible for Fabio Capello to succeed as England manager because he has hardly any good players to choose from.
Much has been said in the English Press about the English dominance in Europe this season, with three of the semi-finalists in the Champions League hailing from the Premiership. However despite this, things have not gone too well for the English national team as they failed to qualify for Euro 2008. Many people outside of England believe that this proves that the Premiership is only strong because of the foreign players, who make up a whopping 62 % of the league. One person who agrees with this viewpoint is former World Cup-winning Italy coach Marcello Lippi. Lippi believes that England manager Fabio Capello has a near-impossible task on his hands, as he just has so few quality players to choose from. “Problems for a coach occur when he only has a few good players at his disposal," the Paul Newman-look-alike told a coaching conference in Florence. "[Italy coach] Roberto Donadoni has a problem of abundance, while for Capello it's completely the opposite. "Capello for example will have more problems fielding a strong English national team because only 38 per cent of Premier League players are British." Capello has stated that his biggest task as England manager will be to try and find out why the country has performed so poorly at major championships over the years. The Three Lions have only won one major trophy, the World Cup on home turf, back in 1966. Apart from this they have reached just one semi-final, while in recent times they have failed to qualify for the 1974, 1978 and 1994 World Cups, as well as the 1972, 1976, 1984 and 2008 European Championships. Diego Smith