The first wave of foreign stars like Adrian Mutu, Hernan Crespo, Geremi, Claude Makelele and Juan Sebastian Veron arrived to be lauded at Stamford Bridge but the 2003-04 Premier League season ended in second place – 11 points behind ‘The Invincibles’ of Arsenal. More was required; a larger presence, and eyes turned towards an Ivorian plying his trade in France. But push up the price they did. When the next offer arrived it was larger; buoyed perhaps by the fact that Crespo was set to leave the club for AC Milan on loan. An offer which was reported to be as much as £26.6 million – “What Chelsea offered was double that of Juventus’ offer. We could not let such an offer go”, according to Bouchet – proved enough to tempt Marseille to cash in and Drogba was on his way to livescore London. By the end of his first season in England – disrupted for two months due to a groin operation – Drogba had played 41 times in all competitions, scored 16 goals and contributed five assists (including five goals in nine starts in Europe) and helped the club to finish top of the Premier League table for the first time in half a century, while also claiming the Carling Cup.
Despite all the spending of recent months, Chelsea chief executive ibcbet Peter Kenyon felt the need to defend the outlay, insisting Drogba was worth the money. “I think his record speaks for itself,” Kenyon said. “I and everyone else feel confident that the money spent on sbobet him will be paid back in doing what he does best – by scoring goals. We are happy with the price we will pay. Didier is one of the most exciting strikers around.” After a summer of spending which saw Arjen Robben and Matezja Kezman arrive alongside a host of others, manager Jose Mourinho had been coy on who the Blues’ remaining summer transfer targets were. However, the Portuguese soon revealed his admiration for Marseille’s powerful striker Didier Drogba, who had just scored 32 goals in 55 games in all competitions, despite beginning his career as a right-back.