BALTIMORE - JULY 24: Jon Obi Mikel #12 and Didier Drogba #11 of Chelsea FC share a laugh before the game against AC Milan at M & T Bank Stadium on July 24, 2009 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Ned Dishman/Getty Images)
Didier Drogba is set to make a sensational return to the European soccer scene.
The Ivorian star will join Galatasaray following the Africa Cup of Nations after agreeing to sign an 18-month deal with the Turkish club. He leaves China’s Shanghai Shenhua where he spent the last six months.
The Telegraph reports the specifics of the deal between Galatasaray and Shanghai Shenhua are unknown to the public at this point.
“There are conflicting reports about the precise nature of Drogba’s move to Galatasaray, amid suggestions it would initially be a loan arrangement with an option to buy for around £8.5 million [$13.3 million],” the report says.
Last summer, Drogba, 34, ended an eight year stay at Chelsea FC, walking away with 2012 FA Cup and UEFA Champions League winners’ medals. His decision to move to China surprised many observes, as he proved capable of outstanding performances at the highest level despite his age. Drogba said he hoped to strengthen links between African and Chinese people by playing in Shanghai, but he only appeared in 11 games for the Chinese club.
A boardroom dispute caused instability at Shanghai Shenhua, as some players went unpaid. It also fueled rumors that Drogba would leave, but he repeatedly denied them. There were also reports that he failed to settle in the Far East, as his family remained in London.
Last week, Italian media reported that Drogba had asked to leave the club, as AC Milan, Juventus and Lazio were preparing offers. Chelsea also offered Drogba a lucrative contract, but he chose Galtasaray in the end.
Galatasaray currently sits atop the Turkey’s Super Lig and remains involved in the UEFA Champions League, where it will face FC Schalke 04 in the Round-of-16 starting on Feb. 20. Last week, Galatasaray signed Dutch playmaker Wesley Sneijder from Inter Milan.
Adding Sneijder was a clear signal that Galatasaray intends to reach the quarterfinals of Europe’s elite competition for the first time since 2001. With Drogba, the Turkish giant may now have the firepower to go even further.
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