Thursday, 20 October 2016

Didier Drogba to accept any role as Montreal Impact resolve disagreement

Didier Drogba will return to the Montreal Impact for the remainder of the MLS season and accept whatever role coach Mauro Biello gives him, Impact president Joey Saputo said on Tuesday.

The 38-year-old Drogba refused to play rather than come off the bench in Sunday's 2-2 draw with Toronto FC in Montreal's penultimate regular season game, and the striker was not listed in Biello's matchday squad.

But with the Impact having clinched a playoff berth of the third time in four years, Saputo and Biello met with the former Ivory Coast international in an attempt to clear the air.

"I'm happy to announce that the situation has been resolved to the club's satisfaction," Saputo said. "Didier has accepted to assume the role that the coach sees fit as well contributing to the success of this club moving forward.

"When he came to Montreal, Didier said that he came here to win, and he still has the same objective. Our main priority now is to focus on the last game of the year and the upcoming playoffs.

"With the players and leaders we have on this team, we are convinced that we can make a run at the MLS Cup."

Under terms of the league's collective bargaining agreement with its players, Drogba will be sanctioned for missing a team activity without permission. He will not be suspended by the club for Sunday's season finale in New England.

"He will be fined as per the league rules," Saputo said. "There's no reason for a suspension."
Didier Drogba to accept any role as Montreal Impact resolve disagreement
Dider Drogba did not dress for the Montreal Impact's game against Toronto FC last week.

Still, Saputo admitted that the situation -- and the way it played out, with reports coming out during Sunday's match that Drogba had refused to dress -- was disappointing.

"I don't think he meant it to be a distraction," Saputo said, adding that he never considered cutting ties with Drogba, whose contract expires at season's end. "It was a distraction. But we got through it."

Drogba has made 22 appearances (18 starts) during the current campaign, one that has shortened by injury. He's scored 10 goals, one fewer than he managed in 11 regular-season games last year after signing with the Impact in July 2015.

But Biello believes that Drogba "absolutely" can help his side in the crucial games that are still to come.

"There was a resolution from both parties and now we're moving forward," said Biello, who declined to get into specifics about what was discussed.

"I still believe in Didier, and I still want Didier to come in and be that hero that he was last year."
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