Didier Drogba completes move to MLS, joins Montreal Impact

The Montreal Impact have completed a deal to sign former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba, the MLS club announced on Monday.

Because of MLS rules, Drogba initially signed with the Chicago Fire, who then traded him to Montreal for allocation money.

MLS does not disclose contract details, but sources told ESPN FC that the 37-year-old had been offered 18-month contract in excess of $3 million per year.

"It's an honour to welcome Didier Drogba to the Impact," said Impact president Joey Saputo in a club statement. "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 scored 164 goals for Chelsea in two stints, first from 2004-2012, and again last season. He won the Premier League's Golden Boot as top scorer in 2007 and 2010.

Chicago initially obtained Drogba's rights by filing a discovery claim on the player and pursued him for over a month. The Fire thought their offer would be enough to entice the former Chelsea forward to head to the Windy City, but Montreal soon entered the fray, and the prospect of playing in the French-speaking city proved more attractive to the former Ivory Coast captain.

When Drogba indicated his preference was to be in Montreal, the Fire traded his rights to the Impact in exchange for what one source with knowledge of the deal described as a "substantial amount of targeted and regular allocation money" of at least $250,000.

Drogba's decision marks the second time in two seasons that Chicago has missed out on a high-profile designated player. In 2014, the club went through a protracted attempt to sign U.S. international midfielder Jermaine Jones that ended with the Fire getting nothing and the player ending up with the New England Revolution via a league-mandated blind draw.

After losing out on Drogba, the Fire signed Gilberto off waivers from Toronto FC, who had to cut the Brazilian lose after his loan deal ended because they already have the maximum amount of designated players.

Drogba had been out of contract since his deal with Chelsea expired at the end of last season. He saw the field with some regularity during the 2014-15 campaign, scoring seven goals in 38 appearances across all competitions.

But he started just 12 of those matches as Diego Costa was manager Jose Mourinho's preferred option up top.

Drogba has spent the bulk of career with the Blues, winning four league titles, three League Cups, four FA Cups, and one UEFA Champions League crown.

Drogba first left Chelsea back in 2012, and nearly signed with Chicago back then, but opted to play with Chinese side Shanghai Shenua. He spent just seven months in China, later signing with Turkish club Galatasaray. He then returned to Chelsea prior to the start of last season.

At international level, Drogba is the Ivory Coast's all-time leading scorer with 65 goals, and his 104 appearances rank third behind Kolo Toure's 108 and Didier Zokora's 123.

Former West Ham and Aston Villa midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker will be Drogba's teammate at Saputo Stadium.

Montreal is currently sixth in the Eastern Conference.