MONTREAL — The Montreal Impact are keeping quiet while their fans eagerly await news on perhaps the biggest signing in club history — former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba.
A spokesman for the Major League Soccer club would not confirm on Monday an ESPN report that Montreal made a deal with the Chicago Fire for the rights to the 37-year-old, but an announcement is believed to be imminent.
The transaction only needs Drogma's signature on a contract to be completed, the report said. ESPN reported an offer of an 18-month deal worth $3 million per season to the Ivory Coast native.
It said Montreal gave Chicago a substantial sum of regular and targeted allocation money for his rights. The Fire got his rights when it put Drogba on its "discovery" list and tried for weeks to sign him.
Chicago reportedly claimed Brazilian striker Gilberto off waivers from Toronto FC when its bid for Drogba fell through.
It seems that Drogba, who scored 163 goals and won four Premier League titles with Chelsea, preferred Montreal over Chicago because it is a French-speaking city.
While his best days appear to be behind him, Drogba would give the Impact a proven scorer with the star power to match other recent signings in MLS, including Kaka in Orlando, David Villa and Frank Lampard with New York City and Steven Gerrard with the Los Angeles Galaxy.
The Impact have been seeking an elite forward since Italian veteran Marco Di Vaio, who joined the club as a designated player in its first MLS campaign in 2012, retired after last season.
Drogba, who split his childhood between Ivory Coast and France, amassed 17 trophies in a career that began in 1998 with French second division side Le Mans in 1998. He played at Guingamp and Marseille in France before transferring to Chelsea in 2004.
With the Blues, he also won four FA Cups, three League Cups and two Community Shields. He also won the UEFA Champions League title in 2012. The fourth highest scorer in Chelsea history won the Premier League golden boot award in 2007 and 2010.
He took three Turkish club prizes with Galatasaray in 2013-14.
Internationally, he is Ivory Coast's all-time scoring leader with 65 goals in 104 games. He helped the West African side to its first World Cup finals in 2006 and brought them there again in 2010 and 2014. Drogba announced his retirement from international competition in August, 2014.
Bill Beacon, The Canadian Press