Didier Drogba is headed to China unless the Chelsea management heed requests from veterans John Terry and Frank Lampard to offer him a new deal.
Drogba, 34, is a free agent this summer and has agreed pre-contract terms to join Chinese Super League club Shanghai Shenhua in June on a two-year deal worth £130,000 a week after tax after Chelsea refused to give him the two-year deal he wanted, according to the Mirror.
“I’m desperate for Didier to stay. He is a magnificent player, a machine," said Lampard virtually pleading with Chelsea to keep him at Stamford Bridge.
Drogba scored his eighth goal in eight games at Wembley on Saturday to win the FA Cup for Chelsea as they beat Liverpool 2-1.
The Ivory Coast international has scored 156 goals for Chelsea in eight years and over the last month has netted in the FA Cup semi-final and against Barcelona in the Champions League semi-final.
Barring a last-ditch change of heart a move to China is certain.
“As a man I love Didier. Whatever he decides to do, whether he stays or whatever, he will go down as a legend at Chelsea," added Lampard.
“For what he has done at this club he deserves everything. It would be a pleasure to carry on playing with him.”
After the victory over Liverpool Drogba kissed the Wembley turf and a post as he appeared to say goodbye.
“I kissed the turf to celebrate and remember,” said Drogba whose four goals in four finals is a record.
Skipper John Terry added: “I hope he’ll be back. It will be such a shame because he has been incredible for this club.
“We’ve got the Champions League final and after that hopefully something can be thrashed out and he stays.”
Chelsea lift FA Cup
Chelsea's remarkable turnaround since Roberto Di Matteo took over as interim coach has taken them to the brink of a cup double after they beat a disappointing Liverpool side 2-1 with goals from Ramires and Didier Drogba on Saturday.
Their victory at Wembley Stadium in a match they dominated for the first hour keeps the London side's momentum going for what could be an even greater triumph in the Champions League final against Bayern Munich in two weeks' time.
A season that seemed destined to end in failure under coach Andre Villas-Boas could now finish as the most successful in the club's history if they become European champions.
Andy Carroll's 64th minute strike for Liverpool brought the game to life for the last half-an-hour after Chelsea appeared to be coasting to a seventh FA Cup success and their fourth in six seasons but Di Matteo's side hung on to claim the spoils.
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The club's campaign has been transformed under Di Matteo - who never lost at Wembley as a player - with just two defeats in 18 matches although he is still only their caretaker boss.
"I'm fortunate enough to have played for the club and won the trophy and today I led the players out ... not many people get that chance," said a beaming Di Matteo.
This victory and another against Bayern in Munich on May 19 would make it seem almost impossible for Russian billionaire owner Roman Abramovich to give the job to anyone else although with Chelsea, as ever, the future is uncertain.
The stakes are high because if Chelsea do not win the Champions League they might miss out on playing in the competition altogether next season since they look likely to finish outside the top four in the Premier League.
Italian Di Matteo, an FA Cup winner as a player with Chelsea in 1997 and 2000, celebrated an ultimately nail-biting win on the pitch with his team who have rediscovered their self-belief and confidence since he took over.
However, he refused to be drawn on his future, telling reporters: "It is not an issue. I am very pleased with my position until the end of the season and then we will make a decision that is best for the club and we will all respect it."
He graciously added: "AVB should get some credit as he started our run in the FA Cup."