UPDATE: Sounders comment on Drogba: "It is a rumor."
If you've been on Twitter today, you're probably aware that Didier Drogba has suddenly become strongly linked with a summer move to the Seattle Sounders. The sourcing is really, really thin but there are a lot of people talking about it and not just random fans. It's at least grown to the point that it's worth addressing.
This Turkish site seems to have been the genesis of the rumors:
DUYUM | Drogba'nın sezon sonu için MLS takımlarından Seattle Sounders ile anlaştığı iddia ediliyor.— De Marke (@demarkesports) February 4, 2014
From there, it picked up steam. The closest thing to a source was provided by Mike Standish, the same guy who first wrote about the Jhon Kennedy Hurtado-and-Patrick Ianni trade that ended up coming to fruition.
From reliable friend: Extremely trusted sources close to Galatasaray have confirmed Drogba's move to Seattle at end of season #Sounders— Mike Standish (@MikeStandish) February 4, 2014
Then there was this from no lesser than Phil Schoen, the BeIN Sports play-by-play announcer who presumably maintains some pretty good sources in MLS.
@realDirtyDish @Weeeilll I'm told these are more than talks... that Drogba to Seattle is a done deal at the end of the season.— Phil Schoen (@PhilSchoen) February 4, 2014
As you may remember, these rumors were also floating around last week. At one point, Drogba was photographed with former Seattle SuperSonics star Gary Payton, although that was in Turkey. I also am a bit guilty here, as I sent out a Tweet last Thursday after I thought I saw Drogba walking around SeaTac Airport. (I should also note that even now, I can't even be more than 50 percent sure that I actually saw Drogba.)
Obviously, this would be huge news if it's true. Despite the fact that Drogba would be 36 by the time the summer transfer window rolled around, he's still a very good player. No, he's no longer playing at the level that once made him arguably the best striker in the world around 2009-10 and helped lead Chelsea to a Champions League title in 2011-12, but he's still a powerful player capable of scoring in big matches. During the 2013-14 season with Galatasaray, Drogba has 12 goals in about 2,200 minutes across all competitions. That includes eight goals in Turkey's Super Lig and two more in Champions League. He's also still a regular with the Ivory Coast national team.
That Drogba is still playing this well is part of why this move seems a bit hard to believe. While Drogba has previously been linked to a MLS move and has even been mentioned in the same breath as the Sounders before, he would obviously demand a very hefty salary. More than likely, he'd be among the highest paid players in MLS history.
As it stands right now, the Sounders don't have a way of adding a player like that. There's always the possibility that given a chance to bring a player like Drogba into the fold, the Sounders and MLS would simply "find a way" to make this work, but what that is requires a bit of guessing. The most obvious would be figuring out a way to rework Osvaldo Alonso's contract so that he no longer counts as a Designated Player. The other might be moving Obafemi Martins, but that seems increasingly unlikely. The final solution would be that MLS suddenly decides that teams can carry four DPs, but that seems to be the least likely scenario.
All that said, the idea of Drogba and Martins running around in front of Clint Dempsey is an image that seems insane in almost any context. Six months ago, I wouldn't have given this possibility a second thought. But if there's one thing we've learned since then, there are few rumors that can simply be laughed off. Guess we'll just have to wait and see.