July 28, 2015
Didier Drogba Signs For Montreal Impact, Chelsea Legend Joins Growing Exodus From Europe

Former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba will continue his playing career in Major League Soccer after signing up with Montreal Impact, according to BBC on Monday.

The 37-year old striker, who won four Premier League titles and the Champions League in two spells with Chelsea, joins the Canadian team as a designated player - meaning his wages will not be restricted by league salary cap rules - following a trade from the Chicago Fire, who originally owned the rights to his MLS contract. According to ESPN, Drogba's preference to play in French-speaking Montreal compelled the Fire to agree a deal with the Impact, in exchange for a "substantial amount of targeted and regular allocation money" believed to be at least $250,000. ESPN also report, quoting sources, that the Impact will pay Drogba, who signed an 18-month contract, in excess of $3 million per year.

Montreal Impact president Joey Saputo was certainly pleased to complete the deal, calling it "one of the biggest days in club history", in a statement on the club website. "It's an honour to welcome Didier Drogba to the Impact," he said "From the first conversation I had with him, I felt that he really wanted to play in Montreal....his arrival to the club will be beneficial in every aspect."

Nick De Sanctis, club vice-president in charge of International Relations & Technical Development added.

"A player of his magnitude can only help grow our club. He's been a leader, a winner and a champion throughout his career."
Drogba is no longer the imposing force of his younger days, but he still brings proven goal-scoring ability to Montreal, where he will be expected to take over a role left vacant when the Italian Marco di Vaio - the club's first designated player - resigned last year.

His arrival also continues the growing trend that has seen several big name stars make the move to the MLS as their European careers have come to an end. This year alone, highly accomplished stars David Villa, Andrea Pirlo (New York City FC), Kaka (Orlando City), and Steven Gerrard (LA Galaxy) have all made their MLS debuts. Drogba's former Chelsea teammate, Frank Lampard has also signed for New York, but is yet to make his MLS bow.

Drogba was born in France and started his playing career there, featuring for Le Mans, Guingamp and Olympic Marseilles, but it was at English club Chelsea that he really made his name, winning four titles, four FA Cups and three League Cups. Drogba also finished top scorer in the Premier League, winning the Golden Boot, on two occasions, and scored the winning goal when Chelsea finally won the Champions League in 2012. He left the club after that, playing briefly in China and Turkey, before returning for one last successful season at Stamford Bridge last year.

At international level, Drogba - a two-time African footballer of the year - played 104 times for Ivory Coast, featured in three World Cups and retired last year after scoring a record 65 goals.

[Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images]