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Didier Drogba refused to play after being left out of starting XI, Montreal confirm

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Didier Drogba refused to play for Montreal Impact in their 2-2 draw with Toronto FC because he didn’t appreciate being named as a substitute, coach Mauro Biello confirmed after the game.

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“Didier wasn’t selected to start the game,” Biello said. “I spoke with him yesterday he didn’t accept the fact to come off the bench and, in the end, he did not want to be in the 18.”

Before Sunday’s game, the Impact said Drogba wasn’t available because of a back injury. But Biello confirmed the Ivorian striker, 38, had refused to play.

Biello said: “There was tightness in his back, yes, but he was capable of playing. The organisation will have to handle this.”

The coach was asked why Drogba reacted the way he did. “You’d have to ask him that question,” Biello said. “In the end, everybody works hard at training every day to be ready for selection. You’re part of a team, and when you’re selected or you’re not selected, it’s about being there for your team-mates.

“It’s important that things are settled in the end one way or another and we move forward. That’s the message.”

Drogba, whose $2.2m annual salary makes him the 13th highest paid player in the league, has scored 10 goals in 18 starts for the Impact this year. It’s his second season in MLS after signing from Chelsea in July 2015.

The 2-2 draw with their Canadian rivals at Stade Saputo clinched a play-off spot for Montreal. Drogba’s team-mates said they hoped he’d play some part in the postseason.

“Didier has been great in the locker room for us, he’s been a great team-mate,” keeper Evan Bush said. “However it was handled, that’s between him and Mauro. For us, we’re just gonna have to move forward and whatever happens next week with that situation, we’ll worry about it then.”

Bush said: “He’s one of the best strikers of his generation. To say we’re a better team without him around, that’s not necessarily true.”

Impact captain Patrice Bernier said: “It sucks a bit. Now we’re talking about Didier but we qualified for the play-offs, and that’s the most important thing. The team comes before everything.”

Bernier said he had spoken to Drogba after Biello made his decision. “I’m pretty sure Didier is [going to be there] in a week, and maybe say his piece because he’s a guy that doesn’t hide away,” Bernier said. “Didier has brought a lot of things to this club and this team, and I’m pretty sure he’s going to keep doing that for the remainder of the season.”

In Drogba’s absence, Montreal playmaker Ignacio Piatti stepped up with two goals, lifting him to 17 for the season and third spot in the MLS scoring race, behind Bradley Wright-Phillips and David Villa.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Guardian sport, for theguardian.com on Monday 17th October 2016 16.14 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010


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