Turkish television is reporting that Didier Drogba is set for a move to Galatasaray, who earlier in the week finalized the acquisition of Holland international Wesley Sneijder.
The announcement came ahead of Sunday’s Istanbul derby between Galatasaray and Besiktas on the LigTV channel—the Super Lig’s official broadcaster and a subsidiary of Digiturk. Drogba, whose contract with Chinese side Shanghai Shenhui runs until December 2014, will sign a one-and-a-half-year contract with Galatasaray, according to the report. The transaction could be completed as soon as Tuesday.
Turkish newspaper Hurriyet also reported Drogba was close to a deal with Galatasaray in a story published in the run-up to the derby. The player’s agent, they said, had already met with Galatasaray president Unal Aysal about a proposed move to Turkey.
Should the transfer go through it will be the culmination of nearly two years of courtship between Galatasaray and Drogba. The reigning Super Lig champions initially tried to sign the Ivory Coast striker in the summer of 2011, but he opted for a final year at Chelsea and went on to lift a first European Cup.
In May of last year, Galatasaray right-back Emmanuel Eboue—Drogba’s Ivory Coast teammate—claimed he had spoken to the 34-year-old about a switch to Turkish football, but Drogba instead joined former Chelsea teammate Nicolas Anelka in Shanghai on a two-and-a-half-year contract worth approximately $300,000.
Drogba, who turns 35 in March, is currently contesting the Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa with Ivory Coast. He featured in 11 matches for Shanghai after his summer move from Stamford Bridge and managed eight goals in Chinese football.
Should he complete the move to Galatasaray he will become just the latest high-profile player with a remarkable CV in European football to move to Turkey. The country’s domestic league has been flooded with television money in recent years, and its rights contracts, currently pegged at €350 million, continue to rise exponentially.
If the deal goes through, Galatasaray will be able to register Drogba for the Champions League knockout stages in which they face German side Schalke in the Round of 16 next month.