Montreal Impact confirms signing ex-Chelsea star Didier Drogba

Chelsea's Didier Drogba embraces Gary Cahill as they celebrate after the English Premier League soccer match between Chelsea and Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge stadium in London on May 3, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Alastair Grant

MONTREAL – The Montreal Impact has acquired the rights to striker Didier Drogba from the Chicago Fire, bringing the ex-Chelsea star to Montreal.

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

“It’s an honour to welcome Didier Drogba to the Impact,” said Impact President Joey Saputo in a press release.

“From the first conversation I had with him, I felt that he really wanted to play in Montreal. This is one of the biggest days in club history and his arrival to the club will be beneficial in every aspect.”

The Impact compensated the Fire an undisclosed amount ranging somewhere in the six-figures to gain the rights to negotiate with the Ivory Coast native, since his name was on the latter’s MLS discovery list.

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Drogba, 37, has reportedly signed a contract of 18 months with the Impact that would give him more than $3 million per season.

The Ivory Coast player is one of the best strikers in English Premier League history with 104 goals and 63 assists in 254 games.

“We are very excited and thrilled to add to our roster a player with an exceptional career,” said Technical Director Adam Braz.

“He’s demonstrated his qualities as a striker at the highest level in Europe. His instinct in front of the goal, his experience and his leadership are all attributes that will help the team on the field.”

MLS rules stipulate that a team must give $50,000 in compensation to sign a player from another team’s discovery list, but only if the original team isn’t planning to offer that player a contract.

READ MORE: Impact confirm talks with former Chelsea star forward Didier Drogba

The Fire had made Drogba an offer, so they were able to ask the Impact for more money.

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Rumours circulating around Drogba’s arrival in the MLS had been going on for just over a week.

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“He’s had an impact on millions of people since the start of his career and he will continue to do so wearing the Impact colours,” said Vice-President, International Relations & Technical Development Nick De Santis.

“A player of his magnitude can only help grow our club. He’s been a leader, a winner and a champion throughout his career.”

The Impact seemed like an obvious choice for the francophone player, since it’s the only French-speaking club in the league.

*with files from the Canadian Press.

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