Drogba’s future uncertain, admits Villas-Boas

AFP, Saturday 17 Dec 2011

Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas admits Didier Drogba's future with Chelsea remains unresolved, but insists Fernando Torres is staying put

Didier Drogba

The prospect of both strikers remaining at the club has been thrown into doubt with Drogba tipped to follow Nicolas Anelka to China while there has been mounting speculation the Blues could be ready to cut their losses on Torres.

But Villas-Boas—whose side will attempt to secure a fourth successive Premier League win at Wigan this weekend—insists he is anxious to keep both forwards at Stamford Bridge.

Drogba, 33, has emerged as Villas-Boas's first choice striker during Chelsea's recent upturn in form but is out of contract at the end of the current campaign.

Speaking before the trip to Wigan, the manager admitted the length of any new deal was proving to be a sticking point—but is hopeful terms can be agreed.

"It's between a two-year and a one-year and we're waiting to make the best decision possible," Villas-Boas said.

"The situation is on-going and we hope to solve it. Whatever the outcome or agreement, or non-agreement, there will be no question of his professionalism and integrity and he will keep on representing Chelsea this season.

"Didier's importance is straightforward, it's not just because he is performing now. The conversation has been on-going since the beginning and we'll continue to push for that.

"It's not up to me to speak about what is in Didier's mind at the moment regarding his future.

"What I think is clear is that he is pretty much involved with Chelsea and his mindset is on competing with his colleagues for this club. That's the most gratifying thing, the commitment from the player. His professionalism is not in question."

Chelsea's season has been revived in the last two weeks with victory over Valencia securing a place in the last 16 of the Champions League before the 2-1 win over Manchester City left Villas-Boas's side just seven points off the pace in the Premier League.

Torres, though, has been forced to watch from the substitutes' bench, triggering reports the Spaniard might be offloaded for a cut-price £20 million, just 12 months after he arrived from Liverpool in a £50 million record deal.

Villas-Boas remains adamant the Spain international is not for sale, however. "It's not true. I'm sorry," he said. "He is not available at any price, for sure."

Victory at the DW Stadium will reduce the gap on leaders Manchester City to just four points with Roberto Mancini's side due to face Arsenal the following day.

And while Villas-Boas has no new injuries to contend with, he conceded Michael Essien, absent all season with a knee injury, is still a month away from full fitness and expects the Ghana international to miss the African Cup of Nations.

"We're looking at mid-January, that's the best we can think about. There was a setback at the beginning of December if I'm not wrong which took him back 10 days and that's extended into January, so I don't think he will go to the African Cup of Nations," the manager said.

Wigan have been lifted by the victory at West Bromwich Albion that moved them out of the bottom three and revived hopes they can escape relegation.

Like Villas-Boas, Wigan manager Roberto Martinez has also been forced to deny reports his main striker could quit the club in January.

Hugo Rodallega is also out of contract next summer but Martinez said: "Hugo Rodallega is a professional and has been a very important member of this football club. He still is.

"He has had a stop-start season and we were fortunate his injury at Everton was not as bad as we feared.

"Now it is a matter of getting back to his best. There is no hidden agenda or anything complicated."

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