Football: Drogba joins Montreal Impact in MLS transfer

Didier Drogba celebrating during a Uefa Champions League match.
Didier Drogba celebrating during a Uefa Champions League match.PHOTO: EPA

MONTREAL (AFP) - Former Chelsea star Didier Drogba joined Major League Soccer's Montreal Impact on Monday, the Ivory Coast striker signing with the Canadian club after a rights transfer from the Chicago Fire.

The 37-year-old African star, who will join the Impact when his Canadian work permit and transfer certificate are obtained, signed an 18-month contract at just over US$3 million (S$4.1 million) a year, according to reports.

"It's an honour to welcome Didier Drogba to the Impact," team president Joey Saputo said. "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."

Drogba played 381 games with English Premier League giant Chelsea from 2004 through 2012 and last season, scoring 164 goals and setting up 88 others. He helped the Blues win four Premier League titles, one Champions League crown, four FA Cups and three League Cups.

"He has had an impact on millions of people since the start of his career and he will continue to do so wearing the Impact colours," team vice-president Nick De Santis said. "A player of his magnitude can only help grow our club. He has been a leader, a winner and a champion throughout his career."

In 2012, Drogba scored the equaliser and the winning penalty that gave the Blues their first Champions League crown, defeating Bayern Munich.

"He has demonstrated his qualities as a striker at the highest level in Europe," Impact technical director Adam Braz said. "His instinct in front of the goal, his experience and his leadership are all attributes that will help the team."

Drogba also scored eight goals in 11 games with Chinese side Shanghai Shenhua as well as 20 goals for Turkish club Galatasaray, winners of the league in 2013 and the Turkish Cup in 2014.

Drogba played 105 games with the Ivory Coast between 2002 and 2014, finishing as the Elephants' all-time top scorer with 65 goals and three World Cup appearances.