Hiddink gives up Drogba hope but closes on Pato

Mark Holmes
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Guus Hiddink does not expect Didier Drogba to return to Chelsea this season, but Alexandre Pato could soon join the club on loan.

Drogba earlier this month had discussions with Major League Soccer over his future, but reports he had retired from playing to join Chelsea’s coaching staff were premature.

And the prospect of him returning to Stamford Bridge appears to be over – for now.

Hiddink said: “On the short-term, yes (there is no prospect).

“But in the longer term we talked about players of a big influence or big image for this club, they are welcome.

“There is no time issue on this.”

The 37-year-old Drogba, who has a year to run on his contract with the Canadians, scored 164 goals in 381 appearances for the Blues, 157 of the strikes coming in 341 appearances in his first spell, which concluded with the 2012 Champions League victory in Munich.

Suggestions of a move to Chelsea for a third time gathered pace when the former Ivory Coast striker watched the first match since the departure of Jose Mourinho alongside Hiddink and owner Roman Abramovich against Sunderland on December 19.

Montreal Impact said on Sunday: “Forward Didier Drogba will not be present for the opening of the (training) 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 February 15 to 28 in St Petersburg, Florida.”

Drogba wrote on Twitter: “On way to Qatar to do some preparation work for pre-season @impactmontreal.”

Montreal’s season begins against Vancouver Whitecaps on March 6.

Hiddink added: “I wish him all the best now for one of his last seasons.”

While Drogba will not be returning to Chelsea any time soon, the Blues were on Sunday night finalising a deal to sign Pato on loan from Corinthians, according to the Daily Mail.

There had been reports of a £9million transfer for the 26-year-old, but a try-before-you-buy deal appears to have been agreed, with a possible permanent switch to follow should the former AC Milan forward impress in the Premier League.