Chelsea striker Didier Drogba and midfielder Frank Lampard, currently at Manchester City, hold their own unique places at Stamford Bridge, according to manager Jose Mourinho.
The Portuguese boss also opened the door for the former Ivory Cost international to extend his career for another year, being at the twilight of his playing time at 37.
It was likely that this would be Drogba’s final year of a glittering career, which has seen three English Premier League titles, four English FA Cups, three English League Cups and UEFA Champions League win in his two spells with the Blues.
Having made 25 appearances for Chelsea this season, Drogba has been a valuable squad member for Mourinho and the head coach is not ruling out an extension to his stay at the club, as he hinted owner Roman Abramovich will also have a say in the decision.
“I didn’t speak with him,” he said when asked about Drogba’s future role.
“I think it belongs to him: what he feels, what he thinks.
“This is a club thing. This is a Mr Abramovich thing. Mr Abramovich wants him to do what he wants in the club, but it’s something Mr Abramovich has to tell him.
“He has to decide, but, obviously, he belongs to the history of this club. These guys are special players.”
Mourinho went on to suggest the likes of Drogba, goalkeeper Petr Cech, skippering defender John Terry and defensive midfielder John Obi Mikel are on course to claim a unique place in Chelsea’s history, with the trio having remained at the club during Mourinho’s to managerial spells at Chelsea.
“It’s nice to belong to two different generations,” Mourinho continued.
“If we are champions this season then Petr, Didier, John and Mikel will have belonged to two generations of title winners. The same as me. It’s nice to belong to the history of a club in different moments, so it’s good for these older guys.
“They’re all very experienced, and these guys are special players but we have others coming through. [Branislav] Ivanovic is experienced. [Cesar] Azpilicueta is gaining experience.
“[Eden] Hazard is here now for three years. [Nemanja] Matic is getting experience. This is a natural process, and the years count for everyone. Ruben Loftus-Cheek is 19 now and has just arrived, but, in five years’ time, he will be 24 and experienced. Chelsea lost, at the end of last year, what I consider, for sure, to be one of the five most important players in the history of Chelsea; Frank Lampard.
“We lost that player but life goes on. You have to think about the future and to build, and you have to go with that.
“In Frank Lampard, Chelsea lost a match-winner with a number of goals he scored, a big character, a player without injuries who played every game, a player who beat every record in the Premier League – playing time, number of goals, goals from midfield – an absolutely amazing player. We lost him but life goes on.”
Mourinho went on to suggest that despite the collection of dominant personalities he mentioned earlier, his role in the hotseat cannot be threatened by the star names working for him.
“Chelsea leadership is my leadership,” he added.
“For good and for bad. It’s not the players’ leadership. Their place is in the dressing room.”