Didier Drogba Backs Romelu Lukaku To Return To Chelsea

Ross Barkley

Now, the former Chelsea star is set to become the first player/owner of a club after he signed with United Soccer League side Phoenix Rising.

Phoenix Rising will probably be very good, because Drogba was a good MLS player, albeit one who refused to play on turf or come off the bench, last season for the Montreal Impact.

Drogba had been weighing up a number of offers to keep playing or step into coaching since leaving Montreal Impact last October, but made a decision to take his career in a new direction by agreeing a unique deal with Phoenix.

"I look forward for their continuing success in the USL, with no city is better placed than Phoenix for growth to the MLS".

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Coached by longtime MLS manager Frank Yallop and featuring Drogba's former Chelsea teammate Shaun Wright-Phillips and ex-Mexican global Omar Bravo, Phoenix Rising FC next play on Saturday, April 23, when they'll host Swope Park Rangers - Sporting Kansas City's USL club - in Arizona.

The New York Times has more contract specifics, reporting that Drogba has "either one or two more seasons as a player, before moving to a role either in the back office or on the club's coaching staff".

"We want our club and our city to be synonymous with worldwide excellence, and Didier Drogba is a testament to Phoenix Rising FC's commitment to that mission", said Phoenix Rising owner Berke Bakay.

Drogba himself popped up on Twitter to confirm the news.

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In 2012, he was part of Chelsea's greatest ever achievement in winning the coveted UEFA Champions League trophy.

Phoenix Rising FC is now three games into its USL season, winning its first match of the 2017 campaign at the third attempt - a 2-1 win over LA Galaxy II.

As a functioning squad member, the former Chelsea striker will also be playing alongside such luminaries as Shaun Wright-Phillips, Jordan Stewart and Peter Ramage.

Lukaku is the top scorer in this season's Premier League after netting 23 times in 31 appearances for the Toffees, and when Cotterill asked Drogba if he knew what the Belgian is doing this summer, he responded: "I know". If successful, they'll be the only MLS team in the Southwest, giving them a huge opportunity to tap into a potentially very lucrative market.

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