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Chelsea to hold contract talks with Drogba

Chelsea to hold contract talks with Drogba

Drogba, who scored the decisive penalty to defeat Bayern Munich in the shoot-out of the Champions League final on Saturday, is out of contract next month.

London: Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck said that the club will hold talks with forward Didier Drogba about a new contract next week, while also saying that they hope to appoint a permanent manager "sooner rather than later."

Drogba, who scored the decisive penalty to defeat Bayern Munich in the shoot-out of the Champions League final on Saturday, is out of contract next month.

The 34-year-old Ivory Coast international joined the west London club from Marseille in 2004.

Buck said on Sunday that Chelsea chief executive Ron Gourlay is likely "to sit down with his [Drogba's] agent this week and we'll see where it goes." "Didier is a big-match player and he did it once again. He's a good guy, a great player. We have to do what's best for Chelsea football club and Didier has to do what's best for him."

Buck added that the club intends to appoint a permanent manager prior to the pre-season tour of the United States that starts with a match against Seattle Sounders on July 18.

Chelsea are planning for the future from an unexpected position of strength as champions of Europe. Since Saturday, owner Roman Abramovich has the Champions League trophy he had craved since buying the club in 2003, plus a place in next season's competition which is key to the club's business plan and status among Europe's elite teams.

Now the Russian billionaire and his advisors must decide if Chelsea's immediate future includes new contracts for inspirational interim coach Roberto di Matteo and talismanic forward Drogba.

The 34-year-old Drogba staked an emphatic claim to extend his eight-year stay by heading the 88th-minute goal which leveled a one-sided match at 1-1. He then followed up by stroking home the decisive penalty in the shoot-out at Bayern's home stadium.

"There's a number of things we've got to look at and we'll review where we are and take it from there, but it's a phenomenal turnaround really," Gourlay said.

Chelsea's players were united in their praise for Drogba after another unlikely win to follow eliminating Barcelona in the semi-finals.

"Of course, Didier is one of the best strikers in the world," said forward Juan Mata, who had Chelsea's opening penalty saved in the 4-3 shoot-out win. "He is very important for us, he scored a really important goal, so he deserves everything."

Drogba's wage demands would have been an expensive luxury had Chelsea lost and failed to qualify for next season's Champions League.