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Sep 22, 2009

Carlo Ancelotti: Didier Drogba's no prima donna

Carlo Ancelotti has hailed Didier Drogba as one of Chelsea's most influential players and stated he would not swap the Ivorian for any other striker in world football.

• Paper round: Ancelotti goes from the farm to the Shed End

Chelsea have started the season with six consecutive league victories and Drogba has been a key protagonist in their dominant form, scoring five goals for his new manager alongside strike partner Nicolas Anelka.

Seemingly disinterested and ineffectual under Luiz Felipe Scolari, Drogba was reborn during Guus Hiddink's brief reign at Stamford Bridge and that improvement has continued this season under Ancelotti.

The Chelsea manager has worked with some of world football's luminaries during his lengthy career in the game but rates Drogba as one of the very best, as well as a real leader in the Stamford Bridge dressing room.

"There is a word in Italy: 'trascinatore'. It means the player that pulls the group together. Gennaro Gattuso was the trascinatore at Milan, John Terry is a trascinatore at Chelsea, but Drogba, too," Ancelotti told the Daily Mail. "There are leaders that speak a lot, he can do this, but then he leads by example with the way he plays. This happened from the start for me. There was never a chance he would leave. He is far too important for us.

"I know some see him as a prima donna but the difference between a prima donna and a leader is a centimetre. The leader uses his talent for the team, the prima donna for himself, but Drogba has never been a prima donna for me.

"He reminds me of the great players, the way he has been this season. If he is feeling a good sensation about the game, if he is confident, he is impossible to play against. I used to play with Marco van Basten. I asked him how we should give the ball to him. He said, 'just pass it, and then start running to congratulate me'. He always thought he would score, and he was usually right. When he is at his best, Drogba can be like that.

"I have never played with a stronger striker than Didier. Filippo Inzaghi at Milan was a smart guy, Andriy Shevchenko was strong, but not in the air, Hernan Crespo, Alessandro del Piero - Didier is different to them all. I think he is one of the best in the world right now. I would put him alongside Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Fernando Torres and Samuel Eto'o but I would not swap him for any of them."

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