Didier Drogba to Atletico de Kolkata was one of the biggest rumours in the history of the Indian Super League, and rightly so. The presence of the Chelsea legend could have raised the level of the lucrative football league in India a notch higher.
But rumours as we know, at the end of the day, give enough juice for the readers, but they ultimately fizzle out.
Nicolas Anelka, Drogba's former teammate at Chelsea, has now revealed the reason behind the decision taken by the Ivory Coast striker not to join the ISL this year, and he also stated that hopes for the ISL to sign bigger players in the future is still not over.
The Mumbai City FC player-coach mentioned that the ISL is set to see bigger players hogging the limelight in years to come.
"Drogba did not sign in India because he wanted to play in the MLS," Anelka was quoted by Goal.
The 37-year-old Drogba signed for Major League Soccer side Montreal Impact late last month, and that laid to rest all the news of him arriving to play in the ISL.
The four-time Premier League winner with Chelsea reportedly signed an 18-month contract that included a salary in excess of $3 million a year at Impact – far more than Atletico Madrid's offer of $1million for the player, to make him ATK's marquee player for ISL 2015.
The Kolkata side had to ultimately settle with Portuguese star Helder Postiga as their marquee player this summer.
Meanwhile, things are still not that bad with the ISL as Anelka says that the future looks bright for the league, and he is also delighted that the scheduling of the games this year makes it better than the cramped schedule of last season.
"I think the style of the league and the way I saw it last season was perfect. In the coming years, you will see bigger names coming in. It's good for India, good for the league and for the show," the Frenchman continued.
"To be fair, the level of ISL is not too far (from some of the leagues I have played in). I did not know the level before coming to India but with all the foreign players, the level is quite good.
"If you consider also the weather and time you have to rest last season, it was quite difficult to manage. I think this year is going to be better because we have more gaps between the games."