Montreal Impact mum on reports of possible Drogba signing
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MONTREAL - The Montreal Impact feel former Chelsea star Didier Drogba has enough left in him to help them on the field, in the locker room and at the box office.
Impact management felt triumphant Monday after acquiring the 37-year-old striker from the Chicago Fire for an undisclosed amount of allocation money.
Excitement among fans over Drogba was evident on Twitter and there were reports of a flood of callers to the Impact offices seeking tickets to see perhaps the best and most famous player acquisition in team history.
Drogba is expected to arrive on Wednesday. He will need some training time with his new teammates before making his debut on the field.
"We have to be patient to understand that he finished playing for Chelsea in May and hasn't played soccer since," said technical director Adam Braz.
The Impact had to go through the Fire to get Drogba because Chicago had put him on their "discovery" list, similar to protected lists in the Canadian Football League. Drogba apparently wanted to play in Montreal partly because it is a mainly French speaking city, so a deal was arranged.
Impact president Joey Saputo said it was an honour to have one of the top stars of international soccer on his club.
"From the first conversation I had with him, I sensed he really wanted to play in Montreal," Saputo said. "It's a great day in the history of the club and his arrival will help us at every level."
Impact defender Laurent Ciman tweeted: "All class. I can't wait to work with him."
Salary details were not released but Drogba signed for 18 months and will be the club's second designated player after Argentine midfielder Ignacio Piatti. ESPN reported a deal worth $3 million.
Drogba gives the Impact a proven scorer with star power to match recent signings in MLS that include Kaka in Orlando, David Villa and Frank Lampard with New York City and Steven Gerrard with the Los Angeles Galaxy.
The Impact have been seeking an elite forward since Italian veteran Marco Di Vaio, who joined the club as a designated player in its first MLS campaign in 2012, retired after last season.
Chelsea has been using the Impact's facilities as a pre-season training base since last week, so Braz got a chance to discuss Drogba with renowned coach Jose Mourinho.
"We got amazing feedback on Didier and his personality in the group, his training habits and what he brings to the table in terms of being a leader," said Braz.
The six-foot-two striker scored 163 goals and won four Premier League titles in two stints with Chelsea.
Drogba, who split his childhood between Ivory Coast and France, amassed 17 trophies in a career that began in 1998 with French second division side Le Mans. He played at Guingamp and Marseille in France before transferring to Chelsea in 2004.
With the Blues, he won four FA Cups, three League Cups and two Community Shields. He also won the UEFA Champions League title in 2012. The fourth highest scorer in Chelsea history received the Premier League golden boot award in 2007 and 2010.
He took three Turkish club prizes with Galatasaray in 2013-14.
Internationally, he is Ivory Coast's all-time scoring leader with 65 goals in 104 games. He helped the West African side to World Cup appearances in 2006, 2010 and 2014. Drogba announced his retirement from international competition in August 2014.
The Impact are also talking to Costa Rican winger Johan Venegas, who played against Montreal for Alajuelense in the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals in April. The summer transfer window closes Aug. 6.