Montreal Impact forward Didier Drogba has quashed reports he is set to retire from football but admits he remains locked in talks regarding a return to Chelsea. Interim Blues coach Guus Hiddink wants the Ivorian to make up part of his backroom team at Stamford Bridge, but the move would require a potential break from his 18-month contract with the Major League Soccer (MLS) side.
French publication L'Equipe reports that the 37-year-old had cut short his career in order to re-join the Premier League champions for a third time, after two spells as a player during which he scored 164 goals in 381 appearances. The reports follow confirmation from Impact that negotiations had begun over the future of their leading striker, who netted 12 goals in as many starts during the second half of last term after joining in the summer of 2015.
Drogba's form was enough to help Impact reach the semi-finals of the Eastern Conference and it was hoped that a full season in 2016 could help the club take a step towards winning their first ever MLS Cup. A move to Chelsea for the rest of the 2015-16 season would significantly hinder those ambitions however, but Drogba says talks over his future are ongoing.
After being inundated with messages of support following suggestions his return was imminent, the former Ivory Coast international wrote on Twitter: "Lovely to receive these messages but I have not yet announced my retirement & am still in discussion with Montreal Impact about my future."
Chelsea are yet to make any additions during the January transfer window, and though only in a coaching capacity, Drogba would represent the first addition should he return to West London.
With Hiddink's spell at Chelsea likely to come to an end following the climax to the season in May, Montreal could look to allow Drogba to miss the first three months of the MLS season – which begins in March - before resuming his playing duties. The 2012 Champions League winners alternatively may want Drogba to work under the permanent successor to Jose Mourinho, who will be appointed in the summer, meaning his career in America will be curtailed.
Hiddink's interest in drafting in Drogba onto his backroom team was sparked when the former Marseille and Galatasaray forward watched December's Premier League win over Sunderland from the directors' box next to the Chelsea boss and owner Roman Abramovich. Drogba met the first team squad after the game and Hiddink later confirmed he was keen to recruit the legendary figure.
"We would like to get him involved," Hiddink told Fox Sports, according to Sky Sports. "But he still has a contract with Montreal in the MLS, even though it is the close season for them now. We want to get important players involved with the club they care about. Drogba's heart is with Chelsea."