Didier Drogba not joining Chelsea staff 'in the short term' - Guus Hiddink
LONDON -- Didier Drogba will not return to Chelsea this season after deciding to see out the final year of his contact with Montreal Impact, interim manager Guus Hiddink has confirmed.
Drogba was widely expected to take up a coaching role at Chelsea, having twice been spotted at Stamford Bridge to watch the Blues' Premier League matches against Sunderland and West Bromwich Albion in recent weeks, and took to Twitter earlier this month to play down reports of his imminent retirement.
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Former manager and mentor Guy Lacombe also claimed that Drogba had told him that he wanted to become part of Hiddink's coaching team, but a statement released by Montreal Impact on Sunday confirmed that the Ivorian will join the club's Florida training camp next month ahead of the new MLS season.
And speaking after Chelsea's 1-0 win over Arsenal at Emirates Stadium on Sunday, Hiddink confirmed that Drogba's return to Stamford Bridge will have to wait.
Asked if Drogba would be coming back, the Dutchman replied: "In the short term, no, but in the longer term we talked about players with a big image for this club being welcome.
"There's no time issue on this so I wish him all the best now in one of his later seasons."
Drogba confirmed earlier on Sunday that he was travelling to Qatar to prepare for preseason training with Montreal Impact.
Drogba left Chelsea for the second time last summer to join Montreal Impact, scoring 11 goals in 11 MLS matches to fire his team to the Eastern Conference semifinals. The 38-year-old is contracted until December 2016.
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Impact's statement on Sunday read: "Forward Didier Drogba will not be present for the opening of the camp, but he will be doing preparation work in view of the upcoming season.
"He will join the team for the second part of training camp, which will take place from Feb. 15 to 28 in St. Petersburg, Florida."
Drogba won four Premier League titles, four FA Cups, three League Cups and the Champions League over a total of nine years at Stamford Bridge, and was voted Chelsea's greatest ever player in a poll conducted by the club's official magazine in 2012.
Liam is ESPN FC's Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Liam_Twomey.