Didier Drogba: Latest News, Rumors, Speculation on Star's Future with Impact

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured Columnist

Montreal Impact forward Didier Drogba celebrates after making penalty kick against Colorado Rapids in the first half of an MLS soccer match in Commerce City, Colo., Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
David Zalubowski/Associated Press

MLS side Montreal Impact want Didier Drogba to play for them in 2016 and see out the final part of his contract, even though they are also trying to assist his comeback to Chelsea.

Continue for updates.

Drogba Comments on Future

Wednesday, Jan. 6

"Lovely to receive these messages, but I have not yet announced my retirement and am still in discussion with the Montreal Impact about my future," Drogba said over Twitter.

Chelsea Hit Drogba Roadblock

Friday, Jan. 1 

Matt Law of the Daily Telegraph reported Chelsea must agree to a compensation package with MLS, not just with the Montreal Impact, if they hope to bring Droba over before his contract is up, and the league may be hesitant to let the veteran go:

But while Drogba’s club Montreal Impact appear to be resigning themselves to the fact the striker will not be starting next season with them, Major League Soccer are playing hardball over the 37-year-old’s contract.

Unless Drogba announces his playing retirement, Chelsea must come to an agreement with MLS officials to release him a year early from his Montreal deal because it is the league and not the club that hold his contract. 

Chelsea are still hopeful of finding an agreement that will let Drogba start work with interim manager Guus Hiddink, but negotiations with MLS have so far been slow and tough.

Chelsea Must Pay Compensation

Tuesday, Dec. 29

Soccer analyst Alexi Lalas confirmed Chelsea will need to reach an agreement over compensation if they want Drogba to leave the MLS now:

Alexi Lalas @AlexiLalas

Confirmed that, as per FIFA regulations, @ChelseaFC would have to pay compensation to @impactmontreal if Drogba accepts a position there.

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Impact in Contact with Chelsea

Wednesday, Dec. 23

According to interim Blues manager Guus Hiddink, the Premier League team is attempting to bring Drogba back to Stamford Bridge, per Law.

Discussions are already taking place between Drogba's current employers and the club where he became a star, according to the Impact's official Twitter feed:    

Impact de Montréal @impactmontreal

We are currently in contact with Didier Drogba and Chelsea FC. We are doing everything we can to have him back with the Impact in 2016.#IMFC

It's a situation the Impact maintain they are powerless to stop:

Impact de Montréal @impactmontreal

But our objective is to have him back for another season, as agreed in his contract. This situation is out of our control. #IMFC

Despite their needs, Montreal are also trying to be respectful of Drogba's obvious desire to return to the club where he won the UEFA Champions League:

Impact de Montréal @impactmontreal

We understand his attachment to his former club and his desire to help them. We are willing to accommodate him. #IMFC

Speaking of being respectful, the MLS team has praised its fans' tolerance—probably both for Drogba's wishes as well as for the Impact's willingness to indulge them:    

Impact de Montréal @impactmontreal

We would like to thank our supporters for their understanding and their patience. #IMFC

Law also stated that while the west London club wants to seal an early exit from Canada for Drogba, the Blues are prepared to wait until his contract officially expires. The Ivory Coast striker was initially offered terms on an 18-month contract to move to the MLS side in the summer, according to ESPN FC's Jeff Carlisle.

Chelsea want Drogba back as either a club ambassador or as a member of the backroom staff, according to Law. Hiddink is keen on what Drogba could do in either role but remains aware of his situation with the Impact:

But he is playing for Montreal, under contract. All the big clubs, and the smaller ones, have these specific guys, figures, who can go into whatever they like – coach, ambassador, manager – but they must be given the opportunity to do so. They give the Chelsea brand a big image, worldwide.

Apparently, Chelsea are wary of losing a club legend the same way one of their Premier League rivals once did: "They do not want to risk losing him in the same way Arsenal allowed Patrick Vieira to take a job at Manchester City."

Bringing Drogba back is a savvy piece of PR from the Stamford Bridge club. Former manager Jose Mourinho's disastrous and acrimonious exit has left a bad taste. There have been too many negative headlines and too much distance between the players and the fans this season.

Drogba's return would be excellent PR for Chelsea.
Drogba's return would be excellent PR for Chelsea.Matt Dunham/Associated Press

As a symbol of Chelsea's glorious past, both with and without Mourinho, Drogba is the perfect face to help herald positive change. His presence was notable during the 3-1 Premier League win over Sunderland, Chelsea's first game after Mourinho was axed.

Sat between owner Roman Abramovich and Mourinho's successor, Drogba was a reminder of the good times at Chelsea. Now the Impact might help him return to the Blues in a bigger and more official role so he can help bring the good times back to the Bridge. 

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