Drogba and Gilberto: A tale of two DPs

For the second time in a year, the Fire missed out on a major signing, but this time it was able to parlay its resources into an alternative.

Montreal traded regular and targeted allocation money to Chicago for the MLS rights to Ivorian striker Didier Drogba, who has negotiated a deal reported to be worth $3 million per year in salary. Drogba, 37, has signed an 18-month contract.

Drogba was a free agent after his contract with Chelsea expired in June, and though Chicago held his rights through the Discovery process, Drogba expressed his preference to play in Montreal. Chicago traded his rights and instead claimed Brazilian forward Gilberto, formerly of Toronto FC, off waivers.

In January TFC had to get rid of Gilberto, who had joined the team in 2014, to make room for the two Designated Players it acquired: U.S. striker Jozy Altidore, a former MetroStar who came back to MLS from Sunderland with Jermain Defoe going in the other direction, and Toronto forward Sebastian Giovinco. At time, TFC had no method by which to accommodate those players and U.S. international Michael Bradley, so it arranged a loan for Gilberto with Brazilian club Vasco da Gama.

That loan expired in June, and so Gilberto went back on TFC’s roster. With no teams willing to trade for him, TFC put Gilberto on waivers.

Though Drogba has played for numerous clubs in his long career, he’s most renowned for his feats at Chelsea, for which he he scored 164 goals in 381 games during two separate stints. He won the Premier League's Golden Boot as top scorer in 2007 and 2010 and during his time at Chelsea the club won four Premier League titles, four FA Cups, and the UEFA Champions League. He scored seven goals for Chelsea last season. Drogba is the Ivory Coast's all-time leading scorer with 65 goals.

“It's an honor to welcome Didier Drogba to the Impact,” said Impact president Joey Saputo in a team 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.”

Chicago obtained Drogba's rights by filing a discovery claim but decided to trade his rights after he expressed a preference for the French-speaking culture of Montreal. Officially, he actually signed with the Fire, which then traded him to Montreal. ESPN FC reported the deal included regular and targeted allocation money of at least $250,000.

Last year the Fire tried to sign U.S. international Jermaine Jones, but his rights were awarded to New England in a unique blind draw. That time, the Fire didn’t get anything from being first in line.

But the implementation of TAM earlier this month opened up a solution. Chicago traded Drogba and signed Gilberto, whose base salary this year is $1.145 million, as a Designated Player and used TAM to buy down the contract of Kennedy Igboananike ($800,000), freeing a DP slot. Gilberto performed well for TFC, scoring seven goals and registering five assists in 28 games but a lack of chemistry with Defoe, who missed most of the second half of the season with a groin injury, and the team's failure to make the playoffs prompted another offseason renovation,

The Fire certainly needs the offensive help; only the Rapids have scored fewer than its 22 goals. In Drogba, the Impact is getting a classic target forward who can hold the ball to bring teammates into shooting positions and go for goal himself. In terms of both benefit to the two teams and the machinations involved, this is one of the most intriguing outcomes in recent league history.

5 comments about "Drogba and Gilberto: A tale of two DPs".
  1. The Sockerite, July 28, 2015 at 9:54 a.m.

    Drogba would have provided a boost in media attention and probably attendance for the Fire in their crowded sports market. Gilberto will not do that. If he finishes, stays healthy, and stays with the Fire for more than a year, he could end up being a good signing.

    But in the short term the Fire look like they've gotten tooled again because even if he works out, he's unlikely to lead them to glory in 2015 without significant help in defense. Fans were promised sizzle and got simmer instead. If that.

  2. Soccer Madness, July 28, 2015 at 11:10 a.m.

    Fire need to invest much more in development. Looks like no stars want to go there. How about those U18 that just won the National Championship? How many h omegrowns will come out of there? They have a 6'5" 97 on that team that gets very little playing time. He is a fwd, lefty, former USA National Team Player, good touch, strong, huge potential. Has been benched last 2-3 years. His name is Rigoberto Rojas. Still pursued by the likes of Pachuca, Monterey, Chivas. And once heavily scouted by the Mexican National Team. Fire can't find playing time for this kid? Am I missing something ?

  3. Greg Giese, July 28, 2015 at 11:52 a.m.

    We gave up our Fire season tickets...nuff said.

  4. schultz rockne, July 28, 2015 at 2:53 p.m.

    The Bridgeview (IL) Fire? Puh-leeze! Of course no one of repute wants to go there (here). I used to watch the Fire at Soldier Field when they first entered the league. Though not the greatest soccer facility, at least it was IN THE CITY! At Subaru Soccer Park, the most prominent distractions are the bigger-than-life advertisement boards (for Mitsubishis, I think) and a group of 50 or so die-hard fans who blandly chant-sing 'Fie-errr...Fie-errr...Fierrrrr' for an hour straight. Intriguing soccer? It can be found--but not in CHICAGO at a high level since Nowak, Beasley, Boca, et al.

  5. Soccer Madness, July 28, 2015 at 6:05 p.m.

    Bridgeview? Got to make it worth that drive

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