Is Jamie Vardy better than Chelsea legend Didier Drogba?

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LONDON, ENGLAND – MARCH 20: Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti prepares substitutes Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Manchester City at Stamford Bridge on March 20, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

The internet is one of the most incredible innovations in human history. It can be a wonderful thing, but it’s also a toxic cesspool if you find yourself on the wrong part of different websites, such as “football Twitter” or Reddit in its entirety. One of the debates that has been making its rounds on social media over the last few weeks is a classic “who is better?” discussion. This particular conversation pins the likes of Chelsea legend Didier Drogba up against Leicester City’s bad boy, Jamie Vardy. In times like these, I wish I was ignorant to The Pride of London‘s minimum word count requirement.

A simple one-word article would suffice here and settle the argument once and for all: No. But since the aforementioned minimum word count exists, you (the wonderful reader) get to sit back and read over 1,400 words that put this debate to rest. It must be said that Vardy is a very good footballer who has enjoyed a fairy tale career in relation to where he began. However, comparing him with the likes of Drogba is inexcusable for anybody who has watched the two play the sport. The former Chelsea man is an all-time legend in the game—not just the Premier League.

Chelsea legend Didier Drogba is a step above Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy

The biggest reason that this comparison is incomprehensible is because it’s based entirely on statistics. The only argument being made for the Leicester City man is that he’s got more goals in more Premier League games played than Drogba. This is an undeniable fact. As any football fan knows though, stats mean nothing without a bit of context.

Background

Vardy is hailed as a bit of a late bloomer and rightfully so. He didn’t play a single match above England’s fifth division until he joined Leicester City (then in the Championship) in 2012. The striker then had to wait another two years until he could get his first crack at the Premier League; he was 27 when he debuted in the top flight. This has been heralded as a completely unique career path, and in some senses it is, but Drogba’s story is more similar to Vardy’s than many may believe.

Drogba broke through into Europe’s top leagues a little bit earlier, debuting in Ligue 1 at 22. However, he wouldn’t get a Premier League move until the age of 25. It must also be stated that he spent the prime of his career with the Blues largely playing under managers of a defensive mindset, such as Jose Mourinho and his disciple, Andre Villas-Boas. It wasn’t until Chelsea hired Carlo Ancelotti (manager from July 2009 to May 2011) that Drogba came under the tutelage of a manager with a serious attacking mindset. It’s no coincidence that—if not for AFCON, malaria and a mid-season rib injury—the Ivorian could have registered possibly the greatest attacking season the Premier League has ever seen in 2009/10.

Drogba also left England for a brief period (two years) before returning to play for Mourinho for one final campaign at the age of 36. Vardy, now 35, has remained in the Premier League since breaking into the top flight back in 2014. While Vardy has also been the No. 1 up top for Leicester City until recently, that wasn’t always the case for Drogba. He played with better players—a common argument against him for some reason—but that also meant more competition and split minutes. Nicolas Anelka (2008-12) and Fernando Torres (2011/12) being the notable strikers that the Blues also employed during Drogba’s tenure.

These are just some of the things to consider prior to viewing the raw statistics.

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