Montreal Impact land ex-Chelsea striker Drogba

Montreal Impact vice-president Nick de Santis and Technical Director Adam Braz spoke about Didier Drogba joining the team.

MONTREAL — The Montreal Impact have made perhaps the biggest player acquisition in club history on Monday — former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba.

The Chicago Fire signed and then traded Drogba to the Impact for a substantial amount of allocation money. He is to join the team once he receives his international transfer certificate and Canadian work visa and is to arrive in Montreal later this week.

The Impact confirmed the deal in a tweet that said "Deal Done. Didier Drogba in bleu-blanc-noir."

Impact president Joey Saputo said in a statement 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."

Chicago had acquired the 37-year-old’s Major League Soccer rights when they placed him on their "discovery’ list weeks ago. Drogba had left Chelsea and was reported to be looking at a move to North America.

The Impact also pushed hard for the Ivory Coast international, who appears to have preferred Montreal because it is a mainly French speaking city.

Salary details were not released but he will be the club’s second designated player after Argentine midfielder Ignacio Piatti. ESPN reported an offer of an 18-month deal worth $3 million.

Chicago also confirmed it claimed Brazilian striker Gilberto, a designated player, off waivers from Toronto FC when its bid for Drogba fell through.

"With regards to the trade, we felt this move was in the best interest of our club," Fire coach Frank Yallop said in a statement. "We received a significant amount of allocation money from Montreal, giving us the spending flexibility to find another player in this window or down the line.

"We respect Mr. Drogba’s professionalism throughout this process and wish him luck, but we are excited to welcome Gilberto to the club and move forward toward the MLS Cup Playoffs and the U.S. Open Cup Semifinals."

Drogba scored 163 goals and won four Premier League titles in two stints with Chelsea.

While his best days appear to be behind him, Drogba would give the Impact a proven scorer with the 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.

He had seven goals in 28 games for Chelsea last season.

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.

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 in 1998. He played at Guingamp and Marseille in France before transferring to Chelsea in 2004.

With the Blues, he also won four FA Cups, three League Cups and two Community Shields. He won the UEFA Champions League title in 2012. The fourth highest scorer in Chelsea history also won 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.

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