Didier Drogba has the last laugh

AP

Fans' favourite Drogba was not on the score-sheet in the heroic 2-2 draw with Barca in the second leg at Nou Camp, but he worked tirelessly to ensure the English Premier League club surprisingly dumped out the European champions.

Didier Drogba was written off in some quarters earlier this season but the Chelsea striker has silenced his critics in recent weeks.

The Ivory Coast striker is coming towards the end of his contract at Stamford Bridge and it appeared to be almost certain he would leave the club at the end of the season.

Drogba turned 34 last month and with his best days seemingly behind him, it seemed almost as though he was winding down at the end of his successful spell with the London club.

But the powerful front-man, who joined the Blues from Marseille in the summer of 2004, has proved he still has plenty to offer by rolling back the years with some outstanding performances.

Drogba scored a crucial goal in the Blues' UEFA Champions League round-of-16 clash with Napoli last month and subsequently re-established himself as Chelsea's first-choice striker ahead of Fernando Torres.

He was also unplayable when Roberto Di Matteo's side thrashed Tottenham 5-1 in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley, before scoring the only goal in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League tie against Barcelona.

Fans' favourite Drogba was not on the score-sheet in the heroic 2-2 draw with Barca in the second leg at the Nou Camp, but he worked tirelessly to ensure the English Premier League club surprisingly dumped out the European champions.

Shanghai Shenhua are keen to sign the experienced striker and the ambitious Chinese club are willing to offer him a lucrative deal to see out his career in the Far East, where he could link up with his former Chelsea teammate Nicolas Anelka.

But Drogba's resurgence has led to talk that he may sign a new deal to prolong his career with the Blues and the striker's agent, Thierno Seidy, confirmed last week that his client is not guaranteed to leave Stamford Bridge this summer.

“Talks are going on with (Chelsea) executive director (Ron Gourlay), and we will take stock with him before the end of the season,” Seidy told L'Equipe. “I believe what Didier is currently showing will lead the club to a new thought. Didier loves Chelsea and he wants to stay, but if things have to happen another way, he will leave. This time, we can make the decision by ourselves.

“Didier will be a free agent at the end of the season, so he is master of his own fate to sign his last contract.”

What looked destined to be one of Chelsea's worst seasons for some time could now become one of their best. Their revival since Di Matteo succeeded Andre Villas-Boas on an interim basis until the end of the season has ensured they will now compete in two major finals.

Drogba took great satisfaction in responding to his critics when he stated: “For those who said that I was too old, they saw that I could run maybe one, two or three more years!”

Whether he does so in a Chelsea shirt remains to be seen and regardless of whether the Blues secure any silverware this season, the Ivorian will go down as one of the finest strikers ever to have played for the club.

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