Didier Drogba Could Have a Long-Term Influence on Montreal Impact

Peter Galindo@@GalindoPWFeatured ColumnistJuly 28, 2015

Chelsea's Didier Drogba during the English Premier League soccer match between Arsenal and Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium, London, England, Sunday, April 26, 2015. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)
Rui Vieira/Associated Press

Didier Drogba signing with the Montreal Impact, per the team's official website, was well-received based on the comments in the announcement. 

Fans should be pleased with this move. Drogba may have only been offered an 18-month contract, according to ESPN FC, but it could have a lasting impression on soccer in Montreal.

Impact de Montréal @impactmontreal

DONE DEAL Didier Drogba is Bleu-blanc-noir >> http://t.co/GfQruB5ASm #IMFC #DrogbaWatchIsOver http://t.co/FUjYsh2TsL

Drogba is 37 years old, which is a slight worry. In his final season with Chelsea last year, it was evident how much slower he was compared to his previous swansong in the 2012 Champions League final.

A forward's speed declines with age. Marco Di Vaio was clearly not as agile during his final season in Serie A, but he was still quick enough to score an astounding 34 goals in 76 appearances with the Impact.

In fact, Di Vaio was 37 when he finished third in scoring in 2013 with 20 goals. He was a major influence during Montreal's run to the playoffs that year.

Di Vaio and Drogba are different players, but the Ivorian forward is in incredible shape. He'll still be able to muscle off defenders and win aerial duels. Plus, with a quality playmaker in Ignacio Piatti, the ex-Chelsea striker will have excellent service.

Throw in wingers such as Andres Romero, Dilly Duka and Justin Mapp (when healthy), and Drogba will have chances to score.

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He'll also mentor the younger forwards such as Jack McInerney and Cameron Porter. Drogba is the perfect role model for any striker.

The Drogba signing will be even more influential off the pitch.

Impact de Montréal @impactmontreal

"I think it is one of the greatest day in the club's history."- Adam Braz #IMFC http://t.co/qRlbLvY4pu

Drogba is one of the world's most iconic strikers of the last decade, and he'll be more loved and accepted by the supporters thanks to his ability to speak French. A superstar such as this in Montreal is significant for the player, the Impact and the city itself. Drogba will be able to communicate in his native tongue, which was a deciding factor in him signing in Montreal, per Jeff Carlisle of ESPN FC.

The Impact not only get a striker who will likely score double-digit goals, but he'll attract fans to Stade Saputo. Montreal's average attendance is 15,769, per ESPN FC. Surely Drogba will boost that figure in the final months of the season.

The key to this move is how the Impact perform. If the team makes the playoffs and plays an attractive style, the casual fans who attend a game to see Drogba might be hooked. It doesn't matter where a club plays; as long as it wins, support will be there.

Before the Impact's season began, owner Joey Saputo was lamenting the lack of attention on the team in February, per Bill Beacon of the Canadian Press:

The buzz is not there anymore. Not only for the CONCACAF game, I can say the buzz for the Impact is not there. That worries me a lot. If people are saying 'Let's see what kind of team we have before buying season tickets,' I can say we did our part. We changed the team. We saw what wasn't working last year. We brought in 11 new players. The 12th player, our fans, is tougher to sign.

Saputo definitely made an abundance of changes to the squad to improve the team. What followed was a magical run to the CONCACAF Champions League final with record crowds packing the Olympic Stadium. 

Marc Bergevin, the general manager of the Montreal Canadiens, wished good luck to the Impact prior to the all-important second leg against Club America. Fans were dreaming of an unprecedented continental title. The buzz was back until the Mexican giants emerged victorious.

Now Montreal has made another splash. Drogba will arrive in Montreal on Wednesday. When he does, the buzz that Saputo craved back in February could be here to stay.

Peter Galindo covers MLS and U.S. soccer for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @GalindoPW.

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