Montreal Impact confirm Didier Drogba signing as “one of biggest days in club history”

Didier Drogba has completed his long anticipated move to Major League Soccer by joining the Montreal Impact as a Designated Player.

The 37-year-old Ivorian striker joins on a free transfer after leaving Chelsea at the end of his one-year contract last season, winning a fourth Premier League title with the Blues, and will undoubtedly help the Impact improve in all aspects.

Drogba is a huge international name and is regarded as one of the greatest players to have emerged from Africa. He has won the African Player of the Year award twice and is the Ivory Coast’s all-time leading goalscorer.

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Chicago Fire looked to be in pole position to land Drogba, though the player was reportedly not so keen on the move and instead wanted to join Montreal.

That looked improbable until the Impact made a huge trade with Chicago for both general and targeted allocation money believed to be worth at least $250,000, according to ESPN FC’s Jeff Carlisle.

Chicago have since acquired Gilberto from Toronto but it’s Drogba’s move to MLS that will be stealing headlines on Tuesday morning.

“It’s an honor to welcome Didier Drogba to the Impact,” Montreal President Joey Saputo said 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.”

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The Chelsea legend’s leadership qualities and eye for goal will make him an instant hit with Montreal fans, who will be relishing the prospect of watching their new man in action.

The Impact beat Seattle 1-0 on Saturday to move into a playoff position in the Eastern Conference and face New York City FC this Saturday night. Drogba could make his debut against an NYCFC side boasting Andrea Pirlo and David Villa, though long time teammate Frank Lampard is not yet fit enough to make his debut.

How big a signing is Didier Drogba for the Montreal Impact?

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Sporting Kansas City hoping to land Arsenal target for free – report

Sporting Kansas City are interested in signing Lazio midfielder Cristian Ledesma when his contract expires at the end of the month, according to reports out of Italy.

The 32-year-old holding midfielder was being linked with a move to the Premier League with Arsenal in January after his agent revealed Gunners scouts had been watching him in Italy.

And although Arsene Wenger never made an official move, he could be waiting to try and sign him on a free transfer when the window opens next month.

If that is the case, he will face competition from Sporting KC as the MLS club are looking to lure Ledesma stateside with a Designated Player contract.

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Graham Zusi and Matt Besler are both DP’s, leaving SKC with one slot available and Ledesma could be the man to fill it.

Southampton, New York Red Bulls and Montreal Impact have also previously been linked with Ledesma as a real battle to secure his services looks set to ensue.

The Argentine midfielder has been with Lazio for nine years, making over 300 appearances for the Serie A outfit and netting 14 goals with 41 assists.

He made just 13 league appearances this season though as his services are no longer needed with the Biancocelesti and MLS could be his next destination.

Would Cristian Ledesma be a good signing for Sporting Kansas City? Will Arsenal try to sign him?

New York Red Bulls on high alert as DP target released from contract

New York Red Bulls have been handed a boost as Kevin-Prince Boateng has been released from his Schalke 04 contract with ‘immediate effect’, despite having a year left to run on his deal, but the Red Bulls will need to act fast.

Boateng, along with Sidney Sam, both have felt the consequences of a below-par season as they both were released following a 2-0 loss against Cologne at the weekend.

Schalke general manager Horst Heldt described the release as a ‘consequence’ and went on to say: “If a player is not willing to do what we ask, then he will not be at the next training session.”

The Red Bulls, who picked up a 2-1 win against New York City FC on Sunday night, are free to approach the Ghanaian international as he is now unattached.

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Reports resurfaced linking Boateng with a move to Major League Soccer on Friday, with the Red Bulls believed to have placed a discovery claim of the playmaker, meaning they would have priority in signing him if he does move stateside.

They will face competition for Boateng’s signature however, as he is also being linked with a move to Turkish side Galatasaray.

The MLS transfer window shuts on Tuesday and won’t reopen until July 8 so there is a possibility that the Red Bulls will make a move for Boateng in the next 24 hours.

Boateng would provide another asset to an already strong Red Bulls side that has flourished so far in 2015, losing just once.

And with two spare designated player spots open, the Red Bulls are the favourites for the former Spurs and AC Milan man’s signature.

Who will be Kevin-Prince Boateng’s next club? Should the New York Red Bulls swoop quickly?

Manchester United striker set for Orlando City move?

Manchester United striker Javier Hernandez has emerged as a transfer target for MLS Expansion Franchise Orlando City, according to the Daily Mail.

Hernandez is currently on loan with Real Madrid but it’s no secret that his stay in the Spanish capital hasn’t been the success he would of hoped for, with only three goals in La Liga this season.

With one year left on his current contract at United once his loan expires, and the array of attacking options at Man United, Hernandez looks set to leave Old Trafford. Madrid have the option to buy but that is unlikely given his lack of involvement this campaign.

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It’s been reported that Orlando officials have been in contact with the Mexico international with regards to a move in the summer, and with a huge Latin American following for the Lions, he could be a major signing.

With one Designated Player slot still available, a move is certainly possible. Orlando already have Brazilian superstar Kaka on their books, and he could be the man to lure the 26-year-old Mexican to trade Europe for MLS this summer.

High competition for places at Madrid have left Hernandez feeling frustrated on the bench this season and a move to Orlando would guarantee him regular first team football in an attacking side, coached by Adrian Heath.

Javier Hernandez does have offers in England with the likes of Southampton, Stoke and Everton all looking to sign the 72-time capped Mexico striker.

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Southampton‘s move for the player could depend on the availability of their right-back Nathaniel Clyne, who is a target for Man United, and Hernandez has been linked as part of a swap deal for the England defender.

Manchester United are reportedly ready to let Hernandez leave for £8 million this summer – a large amount for Orlando to pay as a transfer fee.

The best situation for the Lions would be Hernandez staying at United for one more season, seeing out his contract, as they could then approach him as a free agent in 12 months time.

Should Javier Hernandez leave Europe to join Orlando City in MLS? Would he be a good signing for Orlando?

Former Spurs fan-favourite talks up possible MLS switch

Hamburg captain Rafael van der Vaart will leave the Bundesliga side this summer and a switch to MLS is looking a real possibility as the former Spurs star has revealed he “can imagine” playing in the United States.

Speculation surrounding a move to MLS was fuelled by Sporting Kansas City CEO Robb Heineman after he took to Twitter to reveal he was watching the Dutch playmaker in Germany at the end of February.

Heineman went on to update the situation surrounding Van der Vaart and Sporting Kansas City’s interest last week as he stated nothing was agreed at this stage.

When Van der Vaart was asked about a move to America, he was open to the possibility and wants to be playing at a high level for a few more years yet.

“Everything’s open at the moment,” he told Kicker. “But I can imagine playing in America. I want to keep playing at a good level for a few years.”

If Van der Vaart was to join SKC, he would be a great addition to a squad full of talent, boasting the likes of Graham Zusi, Roger Espinoza and Bernardo Anor in midfield, defensive powerhouses Ike Opara and Matt Besler, and English striker Dom Dwyer.

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His wealth of experience of playing at the top level with Real Madrid in La Liga and the Champions League, Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League and the Dutch National Team will give players the opportunity to learn from the 32-year-old midfielder.

Sporting KC have one Designated Player slot available and would likely use it to bring Van der Vaart to MLS if a deal is agreed in the coming months.

Will Rafael van der Vaart make the move to MLS? Would he be a good signing for Sporting Kansas City?

Is this former Arsenal striker set to become LAFC’s first DP?

Former Arsenal forward Nicklas Bendtner netted an impressive hat-trick in tonight’s 3-2 friendly win against the US Men’s National Team and could be playing against American talent on a more regular basis in the future as Los Angeles FC seem set on making him their first Designated Player.

LAFC are yet to enter MLS but are expected to join the league in time for the start of the 2017 season, meaning they will need to start making squad plans very soon.

Bendtner seems to be a name they have very high up their list and they made no effort to hide their admiration for the Denmark forward during Wednesday night’s international friendly.

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Their Twitter account was filled with tweets dedicated to Bendtner and the club even suggested LAFC fans should be celebrating when he scored his second goal of the night against the USA.

The 27-year-old Wolfsburg forward sealed his hat-trick in stoppage time with a fine volley and the club’s fans would also seemingly like to see Bendtner in an LAFC shirt when the club enter the league.

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A halftime Twitter poll saw plenty of fans suggesting that the 2009 Danish Footballer of the Year should be brought to MLS with the expansion franchise, and it seems the club are keen on that idea too.

Bendtner’s current contract with Wolfsburg expires in the summer of 2017 so he could join the club as a free agent at the midpoint of the 2017 season, though he could be signed for a cut-price deal in the months before his deal expires.

What do you think – would Nicklas Bendtner be a good signing for LAFC in three years?

Philadelphia Union set to sign Fernando Aristeguieta as a DP

The Philadelphia Union look to have finally resolved their striking problem as they are set to announce the loan signing of Venezuelan forward Fernando Aristeguieta from French side FC Nantes before the end of the week, according to CBS Philadelphia.

The Union came close to signing the 22-year-old frontman back in December but the player agreed to join Spanish club Getafe in a six-month loan deal instead.

However, that move fell apart when Getafe could not fulfil their financial obligations to the deal and Aristeguieta returned to Ligue 1 with Nantes.

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Philadelphia have been pursuing other strikers across the globe since their original approach for Aristeguieta fell through but they now look set to complete a full circle by signing the target man.

The 6’2″ striker is expected to join on loan with the option to buy at the end of that deal and will join as a Young Designated Player.

Aristeguieta has scored 11 goals in 51 appearances for Nantes since joining the French club from Venezuelan side Caracas FC in January 2013.

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He helped the side earn promotion back to Ligue 1 in the 2012/13 season with eight goals in 17 Ligue 2 appearances in the second-half of that season.

He has not seen as much playing time since the club earned promotion and has only made six first-team appearances this season so the chance to move to MLS as the Philadelphia Union’s main striker will be an exciting challenge for Aristeguieta.

The young Venezuelan forward has represented his country 13 times, scoring once and has been a teammate of US international midfielder Alejandro Bedoya at Nantes for the past 18 months.

Is Fernando Aristeguieta a good signing for the Philadelphia Union?

Toronto’s Gilberto to join Vasco da Gama on loan until end of season – report

Toronto FC striker Gilberto has not returned to preseason training with the Reds as of yet and his absence could be extended to at least the end of the season as Brazilian club Vasco da Gama are close to securing a season-long loan deal, according to GloboEsporte.com.

Gilberto was one of the three Designated Players signed by Toronto last year as he joined the Canadian club along with Michael Bradley and Jermain Defoe.

But just one year later things look a lot different as Defoe has moved back to England and the Reds have splashed the cash again to bring in Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco, leaving them with four DPs.

Major League Soccer’s roster regulations state that a club can only have three registered DPs and so Toronto will have known that one of their four stars was going to have to leave before the start of 2015 season next month.

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Of those four players Gilberto was always going to be the one to have to move and he is now set to join Vasco da Gama, the club he has been training with for the past month, on loan for the rest of the season with a the option to buy.

The report claims the deal is set to be agreed by Tuesday and Gilberto may never return to Toronto if he can impress back in his homeland, though the Reds are unlikely to be planning on a return for the 25-year-old anyway.

The Brazilian forward will take a pay cut to join Vasco da Gama but the Rio de Janeiro based club will pay all of his wages so Toronto will have no financial attachment to the loan move.

Gilberto scored seven goals with five assists in his first season in MLS.

Marsch: New York Red Bulls willing to bring in two DPs this summer

The New York Red Bulls are heading into the 2015 MLS season with just one Designated Player but new head coach Jesse Marsch has hinted they won’t end the campaign that way.

Bradley Wright-Phillips signed a new contract that made him a DP after tying the MLS single-season goalscoring record with 27 last year. But Thierry Henry has retired and Tim Cahill has left the club and since joined Chinese side Shanghai Shenhua, leaving the Red Bulls short of stars.

The club have had an offseason full of transition, one of the key changes being Jesse Marsch’s appointment as head coach following the sacking of Mike Petke, and supporters are rightly concerned going into the new season.

The Red Bulls made it to the Eastern Conference final in the MLS Playoffs in 2014 but the chances of replicating that are slim this year. The team needs to replace quality with quality, especially in the case of Henry, but that hasn’t happened.

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Marsch has hinted that the team could bring in at least one more DP in the summer and has revealed that the club are leaving space free on the salary cap so that big names can be acquired in a few months.

“It would be with the thought that ‘What big player can we go out to get to add to this?’ Whether it is designated player – that would probably be the category of player we’re looking for,” Marsch said at the Red Bulls training facility on Friday.

“But you know, how it all plays itself out. But for sure, we’re leaving room for one or two big moves if we feel we need to.”

Marsch did not reveal exactly who the Red Bulls were looking at but revealed the club had players that they were keeping an eye on.

“I would say we have center-backs on the radar, forwards on the radar and a mobile attacking midfielder on the radar for the DP position.”

Sacha Kljestan has been brought in on a non-DP contract and will be an important player this season but there is no doubt that the New York Red Bulls need a new star name.

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Waiting until the summer will increase the chances of signing star players from Europe, as the transfer windows on the other side of the Atlantic open back up in July, and clubs would only be willing to part company with a key player as long as they can replace them.

Alternatively, the Red Bulls could approach to sign players that have less than six months remaining on their current deals at any time now and they would then join the club in the summer.

A pre-contract agreement can be signed with players aged 23 or older who have less than six months remaining on their contract.

Do the New York Red Bulls need to bring in at least one more DP to be a force in MLS in 2015?

Five facts about new San Jose Earthquakes DP Innocent Emeghara

The San Jose Earthquakes have added a third Designated Player by signing 25-year-old Swiss striker Innocent Emeghara.

Emeghara has enjoyed time playing in Switzerland, France, Italy and most recently Azerbaijan and joins the Earthquakes as only their fourth ever DP.

Here are five things you should know about Innocent Emeghara:

1) Emeghara is a pacey and versatile forward who can play on either wing or as the main striker

The new San Jose man is blessed with pace and his speed means he is a huge threat in the final third. Emeghara can play on the left or right hand side but he is most effective as the main striker. He is not the biggest of forwards but he is agile and could form a lethal partnership with Chris Wondolowski this season.

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2) He has made nine appearances with the Switzerland National Team

Despite being born in Nigeria, Emeghara opted to represent Switzerland at international level and he made his debut against England in a Euro 2012 qualifier in June 2011. He has gone on to make nine appearances but has yet to score a goal for the national team. His last appearance came in March 2013 when he made just his second start in a World Cup qualifier against Cyprus. He did score five goals in eight appearances at Under-21 level.

3) He most recently played in Azerbaijan where he impressed before going on trial with Hamburg

After leaving Italian club AC Siena last summer as a result of the club going into liquidation, Emeghara moved to Azerbaijan to play for FK Qarabag, where he scored five times in eight appearances. However, he left the club on January 5 and then flew out to Dubai for a trial with German club HSV Hamburg where he played against Manchester City in a friendly. That didn’t earn him a contract with the Bundesliga side and he will now look forward to playing in MLS with the San Jose Earthquakes.

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4) Emeghara averages a goal or assist every 2.2 games through his career

The 25-year-old forward has scored 75 goals and picked up 23 assists in 212 appearances for the seven clubs he’s played for to this point. That means that Emeghara contributes to a goal every 2.2 games on average. He will look to hit the ground running when he joins up with his new San Jose teammates.

5) Expect a fast start to life in MLS, quite literally.

Emeghara likes to make an impact when he moves to a new club. He has scored on his debut for three different clubs in his career, while he netted four in three after his debut with Siena and scored a brace in his second game for Qarabag. San Jose will hope that trend continues when they open the 2015 season against FC Dallas.

Is Innocent Emeghara a good signing for the San Jose Earthquakes?