Jamie Vardy vs Didier Drogba: Who Was The Better Premier League Striker?

Vardy has more goals than Drogba in the Premier League, which has sparked a debate online
17:00, 22 Jun 2022

There’s been a football argument that has gripped social media. Who is/was the better Premier League striker, Jamie Vardy or Didier Drogba? It’s an argument that has split opinion in The Sportsman office so here’s both sides of the debate. We’ll let you make the final call. 

Kris Voakes - The case for Vardy

What Didier Drogba did for Chelsea Football Club was historic. In his first spell at Stamford Bridge he scored 157 goals and was the rock around which the Blues built a winning machine. Three Premier League titles, four FA Cups, a Champions League win and three League Cups… the silverware basically dripped off him.

But what Jamie Vardy has achieved at Leicester City is of far greater consequence to the Foxes than Drogba himself was able to do at Chelsea. The former England man wasn’t even a top-flight player until he was 27 and yet he has racked up 133 goals in the Premier League alone, breaching the 20 mark three times – once more than Drogba managed – in the last seven years.

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And look at the comparative support casts the pair have had around them. Drogba was part of a £150 million summer spree in 2004 which followed a £153m influx the year before as the Roman Abramovich era sent them straight to the front of the queue at football’s glitziest shops. Damien Duff, Arjen Robben, Michael Essien, John Obi Mikel, Ashley Cole, Salomon Kalou, Michael Ballack, Florent Malouda… the list of star players who had been signed to service a team built around Drogba was seemingly endless.

Who did Jamie Vardy win a Premier League with at Leicester in comparison? A £28.8m squad featuring Shinji Okazaki, Leonardo Ulloa, Danny Drinkwater, Marc Albrighton and Demarai Gray. Sure, they had Riyad Mahrez and Ngolo Kante, but both had been added on the cheap and were destined to leave for other clubs before long. Would Drogba have led Leicester to a league title with those resources around him? Maybe not. And would he have continued to thrive in the following seasons even as those title-winners drifted away? Again, you wouldn’t bet on it.

Vardy has won the Premier League and FA Cup
Vardy has won the Premier League and FA Cup

Drogba was undoubtedly a class act as a Chelsea player, but he benefited early on from the rarity that was having a manager (Jose Mourinho) ready to build an expensive unit around the qualities of one dominant striker. One league title and an FA Cup win might not seem like a lot to a Chelsea fan, but to Leicester City supporters it makes Jamie Vardy absolutely untouchable in the pantheon of great Premier League goal-getters.

Simon Lillicrap - The case for Drogba 

This shouldn’t even be a debate. Have people all of a sudden forgotten how good Didier Drogba was? The Ivorian was Jose Mouriho’s kingpin and the man that Premier League defences simply could not handle. Premier League defences, by the way, were much better than they are in this day and age when full-backs are never in position and centre-backs are better at passing than defending. 

He bullied Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand. He destroyed Sol Campbell. He took apart some of Europe’s best back-lines and he knocked Arsenal’s Invincibles off their perch in his very first season in English football. 

“People talk about Thierry Henry, Wayne Rooney, the great strikers, but he is right up there. People that score in finals and in the big games, he is right up there,” Frank Lampard said. It’s difficult to disagree. 

Now I love Jamie Vardy, who has squeezed out every ounce of potential from his career and scored more Premier League goals than Drogba in fewer games, but the Ivorian was a colossus of the English game. Four Premier League titles, four FA Cups, three League Cups - oh and that Champions League that he won almost single handedly. 

Drogba with the Champions League 2012
Drogba with the Champions League 2012

In total he played in ten finals for Chelsea and scored nine goals in those games. When it really mattered Drogba delivered and he also did it away from league football. Chelsea were underdogs at almost every stage of the 2012 Champions League run, yet Drogba delivered in the final in the most sensational way. 

On the international stage, which Vardy barely touched, he won African Footballer of the Year twice, and was named in the AFCON team of the tournament on three separate occasions. Of course he has played with better players than Vardy, he was a better player. End of discussion.

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