Drogba to attend Montreal’s pre-season camp

Didier Drogba. (Graham Hughes/AP)

MONTREAL — Didier Drogba is returning to the Montreal Impact.

After weeks of speculation on whether the 37-year-old striker would go back to his former club Chelsea, the Impact announced Sunday that Drogba will return sometime during training camp, after a spell of working out in Qatar.

Drogba, who has a year remaining on his contract, suggested he’d be back in a tweet that read: "On way to Qatar to do some preparation work for pre-season "

Didier Drogba on Twitter

The Impact open camp Monday and Tuesday at Olympic Stadium in Montreal, then head to Florida for outdoor training in warm weather.

"Forward Didier Drogba will not be present for the opening of the camp, but he will be doing preparation work in view of the upcoming season," the team said in a statement. "He will join the team for the second part of training camp, which will take place from February 15 to 28 in St. Petersburg, Florida."

Drogba took MLS by storm after he joined the Impact in late July, scoring 11 goals in as many regular season games and adding another in the playoffs. His presence helped lift a struggling team to third place in the Eastern Conference and advance to the post-season.

But in December there were reports he would go back to Chelsea, perhaps as an assistant to coach Guus Hiddink. His appearance with club officials in a private box at a Chelsea match had Impact fans in a panic that the club’s scoring leader would leave.

Their hopes were somewhat restored when Drogba sent a tweet denying reports he would retire from playing.

It was a second piece of good news in as many days for the Impact, who announced Saturday that central defender Victor Cabrera signed a contract after solid play last season in Montreal on loan from Argentine club River Plate.

Twenty-five players are expected to report on Monday, including first-round draft pick Kyle Fisher.

Midfield signing Luacs Ontivero, midfielder Calum Mallace and draft picks Michael Salazar, Eric Verso and Keegan Smith are to report in Florida. Midfielder Pedro Jeanine, who is on a trial, will also join the team in Florida.

Canadians Kyle Bekker, Maxime Crepeau and Wandrille Lefevre, American Erik Miller and Costa Rican Johan Venegas will hook up with the squad after spells with their national teams.

Midfielder Andres Romero remains in Argentina to rehab a knee injury.

The Impact’s first pre-season game is set for Feb. 4 against the New York Red Bulls.

They open the regular season March 6 in Vancouver and play their home opener March 12 against the Red Bulls at Olympic Stadium.

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