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Osimhen to Chelsea? Why there's no way Drogba could recommend such a thing

COMMENT: Would he? Indeed, could he? Is there any way of Didier Drogba being capable of convincing Victor Osimhen to choose Chelsea as his next port-of-call...?

In England it was ablaze, one of Chelsea's greats spotted in conversation with Osimhen before Nigeria's AFCON encounter with hosts Ivory Coast on Thursday. Of course, this set social media alight. And in turn, the chatter made it's way to the red tops for one of those silly filler stories of pure, 'bot-sourced' speculation.

But let's say there's a skerrick of truth in all this. That Napoli's outstanding Nigeria international. The current African Player of the Year. Let's say Osimhen asked his hero for advice on Chelsea. Just what would Drogba, in all good conscience, recommend? Indeed, what inside information would the Ivorian great have, given there's been no contact; no invite; nothing; from the owners since taking charge of the club?

Drogba does have an influence on Osimhen, we know that. A young Vic grew up in Lagos modeling his game on Chelsea's then centre-forward.

“It's amazing when you wake up or go on social media, see an encouraging message from someone you grew up admiring like Drogba," Osimhen has stated in the past. "It's a surprise and of course a big motivation for me. I chose my idol very well..."

But Osimhen to today's Chelsea? It's fantasy calcio, isn't it? Mid-table. Unstable. With a team and players constantly in flux. Is this the opportunity Osimhen and his agent, the well-connected and influential Robert Calenda, are seeking for the next step in his career? Indeed, is today's Chelsea the move Drogba would champion?

At the beginning of the season, this column had a warning for Blues fans: the days of consistent success; of big European nights; of title challenges were over. Nothing over the previous 12 months of the new ownership suggested they could get close to what was achieved under Roman Abramovich. And six months on, we have a new warning: the days of those big-name signings also are threatening to be over. You'll have big-money signings, sure. But there's a difference between big-money and big-names. And Chelsea are fast losing their attraction for the game's established, elite talent.

And this isn't just about the inconsistencies on the pitch. It's actually a conscious effort. We're now hearing from agents that the understood transfer policy at Chelsea is to spend big on players "24 years and younger". They may sign more experienced talent, but there'll be no great financial commitment afforded such additions. Again, having just turned 25 and still learning his craft, does Osimhen want to enter a dressing room where he'll be instantly burdened with the responsibilities of a senior leader?

It's now a year on since Enzo Fernandez arrived from Benfica for a €100m-plus fee. Post-World Cup with champions Argentina, Enzo had the world at his feet. But 12 months on, no-one inside the game are saying this move has been good for the young midfielder. We've raised that feedback from one Premier League scout in recent columns - the general opinion is that Enzo has stagnated. Not due to effort. Nor approach. But because of circumstance. The instability of Chelsea. The pressure and demands that come with carrying such a price-tag - and the lack of heavyweight cover to shield him from such scrutiny.

Enzo has been thrown to the lions. Whether you're a €100m player or a free transfer, having just turned 23, any young player's development is going to be affected when playing in such an environment. They'll say otherwise publicly, but Enzo's camp would definitely choose differently if given their time back.

Mid-table, in-flux Chelsea isn't a realistic option for Osimhen. Perhaps the 2020 version, as his game was coming together at Lille, would see Stamford Bridge as the right next step in his career. But today's model? The player who sits at the top of the world? The one who is seeking a platform to fully realise his talent? C'mon...

"He is a star," says Osimhen's Nigeria coach Jose Peseiro, "because of his ability to score goals, to fight, to press. He has vigor, aggressiveness, speed, power and he has a goal. He is crazy about scoring goals.

"He can play for any top team: Madrid, Bayern, City..."

Of course, Peseiro is right. For all he has achieved these past 18 months, Osimhen belongs in such elite company. Something we cannot say of today's Chelsea. The player knows this. As does Calenda. And even with his Blues loyalty, Drogba - in good conscience - could never recommend his old club to a player at Osimhen's stage of career.

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Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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