The Fire didn’t get Didier Drogba, as they officially sent him Monday to the Montreal Impact.
They hope the money got in return – and the player they signed with that cash – will make people forget about their latest big-name whiff.
In exchange for Drogba in the sign-and-trade deal, the Fire received general and Targeted Allocation Money from the Impact. With that money, the Fire signed former Toronto FC striker Gilberto Oliveira Souza Júnioras a Designated Player after claiming him off waivers and also bought down the contract of struggling DP forward Kennedy Igboananike to make room, using the new TAM provision.
In a news release, Fire coach Frank Yallop said Gilberto “is in the prime of his career.”
“He’s shown he can score goals in this league and we look forward to him joining our club here in Chicago,” Yallop said.
Despite having the discovery claim the Fire originally passed on pursuing Drogba, opening the door to other teams. Montreal took advantage, and even though the Fire got involved and reportedly offered him an 18-month deal worth around $3 million per season they couldn’t get him to Chicago.
Drogba has officially joined the Impact.
In explaining the trade, Yallop said the deal was in the “best interest” of the Fire and that they received a “significant amount of allocation” from the Impact that will give them extra flexibility.
“We respect Mr. Drogba’s professionalism throughout this process and wish him luck, but we are excited to welcome Gilberto to the club and move forward toward the MLS Cup playoffs and the U.S. Open Cup semifinals,” Yallop said.
Gilberto will start life with the Fire as the consolation prize after the team lost out on the 37-year-old Drogba, a four-time English champion with Chelsea and one of the biggest names in soccer. While not a long-term solution, Drogba could have given some pizzazz to a last-place team in danger of missing the playoffs for the fifth season in six.
The Fire missing on Drogba seemed like a foregone conclusion Saturday. On Wednesday, Yallop said he expected a response in 48 hours but by Saturday there still wasn’t a public answer, though reports indicated Drogba had already made up his mind.
Gilberto, 26, had been a DP with Toronto FC and scored seven goals in 28 appearances last season. But over the winter TFC signed Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore to reach the maximum of three DPs, forcing them to loan Gilberto to Brazilian team Vasco da Gama in February, where he scored nine goals.
With the allocation money they received, the Fire could bring in more players before the transfer window closes Aug. 6. Yallop has mentioned center back as a possibility.