Didier Drogba vs Harry Kane
Didier Drogba was the definition of a big game player for Chelsea. His contribution in Chelsea’s 2012 Champions League triumph alone cemented his place in their history for eternity. Not to mention the rest of the endless list of memories he created for Blues’ fans in his 9 seasons at Stamford Bridge. Yet there are often questions asked, particularly by rival fans, about how good the Ivorian actually was. Recently, the question has been asked about who is the better striker between Drogba and Harry Kane. It’s caused quite the debate online…
Obviously the former Chelsea striker retired in 2018 after his illustrious career, while Tottenham’s frontman is still only 26. So this comparison from the outset is flawed in that, we haven’t seen perhaps even half of Kane’s whole career so far. You could argue the England international isn’t even in his prime, whilst we’ve seen Drogba at the beginning, middle and end.
So why has this debate emerged? Well, people question Drogba’s out and out goal scoring ability across his whole Chelsea career. They argue that he wasn’t that good of a goal scorer, with Kane better in that regard. If we’re judging them solely on volume of goals, perhaps the Spurs striker was better. Yet it’s far more complex than that. So with measures that are quantifiable and measures that aren’t, here’s our comparison between the two London club strikers:
Didier Drogba – The big game player
No-one disputes how the Ivory Coast international rose to the occasion. As aforementioned, the definition of a big game player. A staggering 10 goals in 10 finals across his whole career is the elite mentality and ability that epitomises that phrase. The equaliser against Bayern in the 88th minute when Chelsea looked down and out, before slotting away the winning penalty to win the Champions League is obviously his most famous piece of work.
Something that’s perhaps not mentioned enough is he’s scored in 4 FA CUP FINALS. A truly ridiculous return that once again proves how he rose to the occasion time and time again. In its simplest form, without Didier Drogba, Chelsea wouldn’t have won anywhere near as many trophies as they have done. It’s hard for many players in football history to compete with such a record in major finals.
Harry Kane – Case of his own?
Harry Kane can’t come close to the silverware Drogba has in his trophy cabinet. Playing for Spurs obviously doesn’t help his prospects for accolades, though perhaps in the future that might change. Whether that be with Jose Mourinho now at the helm or at a different club. Yet currently at the time of writing, the 26 year old has no trophies to his name. Despite reaching two major finals (2014/15 League Cup and 2018/19 Champions League) and starting in both, Kane has failed to score in either. 10 in 10 for Drogba, 0 in 2 for Kane. A clear winner in this category.
Of course major finals aren’t the only big games. Historical rivalries, derbies, games against the Top 6 or anything with some sort of extra importance to a bog-standard league game is important. In that respect, Kane deserves credit for being the all-time top scorer in the North London Derby. Ahead of an elite level striker in Thierry Henry for example. Arguably one of the biggest fixtures of the season, based on pure emotion and the geographical rivalry between the Gunners and Spurs. That’s a game that can’t be measured on importance with what’s at stake in terms of silverware, but instead pride.
“Harry is one of the best. I’ve told you before. He’s one of the best strikers of a ball.”Mauricio Pochettino on Harry Kane
But solely on the basis of turning up on the biggest occasion of all, where silverware is at stake, Drogba comprehensively beats Kane. No doubt about it.
The better goalscorer
Where the ‘criticism’ comes in for Drogba is years of consistent goals. On paper, the former Galatasary striker has a average record at best. 104 goals in 254 Premier League appearances isn’t bad as such. But it’s hardly prolific for a widely considered elite level striker. Furthermore, across his Premier League career, the Ivorian only scored more than 12 goals TWICE in his 9 seasons in the English top flight. In all competitions too, Drogba only surpassed 20 goals in a single season twice (33 in 2006/07 and 37 in 2009/10. Other than those two outstanding seasons, the numbers on face value aren’t remarkable.
This is where the argument for Kane gains momentum. He’s already the 13th highest scorer in Premier League history after almost 7 full seasons. With already a surprising 32 more goals than the Chelsea legend, the Tottenham forward’s record is vastly superior. 136 goals in 198 games is a significantly more prolific return. For out and out goal scoring, Kane is on top quite considerably. So for sheer volume of goals, the Englishman is clearly better.
Prime Drogba vs Prime Kane
People are suggesting that Kane has regressed since 2017/18. The season where he scored an astronomical 41 goals in all competitions. Whether that will remain his best ever season remains to be seen. But hypothetically if we assume Harry Kane has already peaked and that was his prime season, we can compare that to Didier Drogba’s best season: 2009/10.
30 goals in the league for Kane, 29 for Drogba. 2 assists for the Spurs striker compared to the Chelsea man’s 10. As the former made 5 more Premier League appearances, we can look at minutes per goal to make it fair. The Ivorian in fact has a better minutes per goal in his prime season (95.6) than the Englishman (102.7). Both played in the Champions League with Kane scoring 7 goals, whilst Drogba scored 3. Both averaged over 5 shots per game, had similar dribbles per game and were generally quite similar in most statistics. In their best individual seasons, it’s neck and neck.
Perhaps one notable difference is key passes per game. Drogba averaged 1.8 in 2009/10, whilst Kane averaged 0.9 in 2017/18, explaining the stark difference in assists during their best seasons. Perhaps this shows that Drogba impacted the game in other ways than just goals, as a facilitator in fact. Something Kane has recently been criticised for is that he doesn’t bring more than goals to the game. If he doesn’t score, he’s often invisible. A fair criticism which, as shown by the assists and key passes, wasn’t apparent with Drogba.
Other factors – Leadership, influence, teammates and style of play
There are SO many other factors that you have to consider to make this as fair a debate as possible. Some examples below:
“Drogba is a fighter, he is the kind of player I would say,’with you, I can go to every year.”Jose Mourinho on Didier Drogba
Firstly, is it fair to say Drogba scored the goals he did with a better team around him? The likes of Lampard, Ballack and Joe Cole, were evidently better than Alli, Lamela and Eriksen. Not that the latter were/are bad players, but the Ivory Coast international clearly had a better team around him. For Kane to score the goals he has done in a good, but not outstanding Spurs side, is an impressive achievement.
Then on the flip slide, you could say that the Tottenham side has been geared towards maximising Kane’s output. When you’re the only goal scoring threat, you’re obviously going to take more shots and have the ball given to you more. More so than a team where overall quality and talent is distributed more evenly across the attack like Chelsea. Drogba has had to compete with the likes of Shevchenko, Torres and Anelka for the starting spot, whilst Kane has always been first choice. Maybe not a defining factor, but worth considering.
Then there’s obviously non-quantifiable influences and qualities. Hard to capture with stats. I think we can all agree Didier Drogba was a much better leader and personality than Harry Kane ever will be. The whole Chelsea dressing room had captains and leaders, with the now 41 year old being one of them throughout his time there. Of course the big game argument, where the goals Drogba have scored having been worth more than Kane’s. There’s scoring 4 goals against Leicester, then there’s scoring a late Champions League final equaliser. Quality over quantity you could say.
As players themselves, Drogba was faster and stronger than Kane. Arguably better in the air and without doubt a better creator. Yet the Spurs forward is a better finisher and goalscorer, ultimately what we judge strikers on in the simplest terms at the end of the day.
Didier Drogba vs Harry Kane – Summary
In summary, they’re both incredible strikers in their own ways. As a pure goal scorer and a clinical finisher, Harry Kane. As a big game player that shines in other aspects of the game other than goals, Didier Drogba. But for me personally, Didier Drogba is, and I believe always will be, the better striker.
This is taking nothing away from what Harry Kane has achieved in his career thus far. In fact at 26, he has a way to go and when he retires, we can make much better comparisons. But Drogba was much more than goals. The leadership, the elite winning mentality his creative output and of course, his ridiculous record in big games. There’s more to a top striker than just goals. Hence why if I had to pick between them, I would pick Didier Drogba.
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