MONTREAL - The Montreal Impact denied a report on Friday that striker Didier Drogba was contacted by Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich about returning to the struggling Premier League club.
"The rumour about Didier Drogba is unfounded. No contact has been made with the club or him," the Major League Soccer club posted on Twitter.
But Drogba was seen sitting alongside interim Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink and Abramovich at Saturday's match against Sunderland.
Jeune Afrique magazine reported that Abramovich called the 37-year-old Drogba hours after firing manager Jose Mourinho on Thursday about rejoining the club, likely in a backroom capacity until he can get his coaching certificates and eventually take over the first team.
Drogba, a scoring sensation after his arrival in Montreal on July 27, is under contract to the Impact through the 2016 Major League Soccer season. He said at the end of the campaign he expects to return.
However Chelsea, where the Ivory Coast native spent 10 seasons, is in turmoil.
After winning a fourth league title with Drogba in 2014-15, the club went into a tailspin. They are in 16th place with a record of four wins, three draws and nine defeats - 20 points behind unlikely league leader Leicester.
Jeune Afrique said Drogba was in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, when Abramovich called. It quoted a source saying Drogba would be happy to return to Chelsea, the club closest to his heart.
Drogba played from 2004 to 2012 at Stamford Bridge. After a season each in China and Turkey, he returned to Chelsea in 2014-15 to help them win a fourth league championship. He led them to a UEFA Champions League title in 2012.
In MLS, Drogba scored 12 goals in 14 regular season and playoff games, helping the Impact finish third in the Eastern Conference and reach the conference semifinals. The gifted and charismatic striker also packed fans into Saputo Stadium. Losing him would seriously disrupt the club's plans for 2016.
After the MLS playoffs, Drogba denied talk of a loan to Chelsea, but didn't rule out spending some time training with his former teammates.
"I belong to the Montreal Impact," he said. "To stay in shape, why not? To play, I'm really not too hot on that idea."