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By ESPN Staff
May 14, 2008

Kalou urges Drogba to stay at Chelsea

Chelsea striker Salomon Kalou has urged his club and international team-mate Didier Drogba to stay at Stamford Bridge.

Drogba's future has been the subject of intense speculation with AC Milan believed to be the favoured destination of the Ivory Coast striker.

But Drogba's fellow Ivory Coast international wants him to remain part of the Chelsea revolution under coach Avram Grant.

'I enjoy playing alongside him and I have learned a lot with Didier, but he will make his decision,' said Kalou.

'We will support him whatever his decision is. We don't really talk about contract things but I would love him to stay. He will make the decision but I hope that he will stay with us.

'He is one of the best strikers in the world. There is Cristiano Ronaldo and Fernando Torres but he has shown he is one of the best in the last couple of years.'

Joe Cole is the only player to have made more than Kalou's 47 appearances for Chelsea this season and yet he is not guaranteed a place in coach Avram Grant's starting line-up in Moscow next Wednesday.

Kalou is facing competition from French winger Florent Malouda but he insists he will be happy to start on the bench if he has to.

'It doesn't matter if I start or come in, the most important thing is to bring quality to the game,' said Kalou.

'I am working hard to be in the first XI. Even if I am on the bench I will still focus on the game and try to make the difference.

'It is my first big final and I am really excited to play. I am working hard on the pitch to show the manager I can start.

'We have to go to the final and try to win, so we will give 200%. Everyone knows how important it is for the club. We won't let the chance go.

'I think United have a really good team and have had a really good season. They are a strong team, and the defensive part of Manchester is great.

'Then you have people like Ronaldo who can score in any game, so they deserve to be where they are right now.

'But the strength of Chelsea is that we have a compact team. We have some important players, some people who, when you need them, will deliver a good performance - Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba for example. When the moment comes we will count on them and they will make the difference.'

Kalou believes Chelsea have already had a massive psychological boost ahead of their showdown with the Barclays champions after captain John Terry and Drogba revealed they would be fit enough to play.

Terry (dislocated elbow) and Drogba (knee) both trained today.

'To have John and Didier on the pitch gives more power to Chelsea, more confidence to attack a great final. We need them and when the day comes they will be ready for the game,' added Kalou, who reserved his biggest praise for under-fire boss Grant.

Speculation continues to circulate that the 52-year-old Israeli will be moved upstairs in the summer and a new manager appointed.

Grant insists he has a four-year contract and will be in charge of the side next season.

But Kalou is under no illusions about the talent of the man who has led Chelsea to their first Champions League final.

'This season I played more on the left side, with Jose [Mourinho] I played more as a striker, so he tried to put me in one position and improve there,' said the 22-year-old.

'He talked to me a lot in training and there are a lot of things I can improve, that's the thing I didn't have before, I managed to defend and attack as well. That's something more I've brought to my game.

'I think Avram has done great. He came to the club and managed to get the team to the final. We know it wasn't easy for him with all the critics but he managed to stay calm and push his team to the next game.

'If I had to talk from my own feeling I think he did a great job. He is good and brings something extra to what Jose did. He made every player fight for his position.

'He is a really calm person so we manage to be really calm and focused on our goal.'

Meanwhile, Joe Cole has snubbed Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo ahead of their Champions League final showdown by claiming Barcelona winger Lionel Messi is a better player.

Messi has already been linked with a summer move to Stamford Bridge and England midfielder Cole would love the Argentinian to join the club - if they had the chance to land him.

Cole insists the Barcelona winger made Ronaldo, scorer of 31 goals in the Barclays Premier League this season and the voted `Player of the Year' by the media and his fellow professionals, look second best in their Champions League semi-final.

'I think they are both great players,' said Cole. 'Ronaldo has been fantastic but Messi showed in the semi-final that he is the top man.

'If we could sign him, I'd love to play alongside him. He is only 20 as well, just imagine how good he will be in the next 10 years.'

Cole is set to start for Chelsea against United in Moscow next Wednesday and insiss that Avram Grant's side must not dwell on the costly errors that handed the title to Sir Alex Ferguson's side and urged his team-mates to look to the future, saying: 'The best team win the Premier League, it is as simple as that.

'Manchester United would have dropped points they shouldn't have too. We just have to put it to bed and get on with things.

'We have the Champions League to play for. If you worried about every mistake you or the team had made over the course of the season, you would never sleep at night.

'Everyone has been patting us on the back for almost winning the league and getting to the Champions League final but it is about putting silverware on the table.'