MONTREAL – Despite recent rumors linking the Impact to Nicolas Anelka, the two parties are not currently in contact over a deal for 2012, Montreal sporting director Nick De Santis told reporters on Tuesday.
The French striker had been approached by the Impact, but more recently has been linked to a lucrative deal with Chinese Super League club Shanghai Shenhua.
“The discussions with him had been stopped a few weeks ago,” De Santis said.
De Santis also shot down any rumors of the impending Montreal arrival of Anelka's Chelsea teammate and fellow forward Didier Drogba, citing financial concerns.
“He was presented to the MLS, but I’m sure he’s more interested in going to Los Angeles or New York,” De Santis said. “Of course we’re interested, but we all know that he will cost a lot.”
De Santis asserted that the Impact have no pressing need to sign a Designated Player, and that move could come later in the team’s inaugural MLS season.
“For us, there is no urgency in getting a DP in January,” he explained. “Yes, we’re looking at signing a good forward, but we want to take the right decision when it comes to adding a player of that caliber, perhaps in July.
“We’re comfortable with what we have right now,” he added. “We have a lot of new players and we’re still looking to build a competitive team for this league. We are also focusing on the SuperDraft and watching a lot of college games.”
The Impact hold the first overall pick in the SuperDraft on Jan.12 in Kansas City.
Awaiting word on Ching
The Impact are still waiting on confirmation that former Houston Dynamo striker Brian Ching will join the club after he was selected first overall in the Expansion Draft late last month. Ching expressed before the draft that he would retire if taken by the Impact, but the longtime MLS star has yet to go public with his intentions for 2012.
“We’ll let him think about his future,” De Santis told MLSsoccer.com. “He would be a great addition if he comes, but we also know that if he doesn’t, we can go get another player of good value.”
Impact to open against Vancouver
The Impact found out on Tuesday that they’ll open their expansion season on the road against Canadian rivals Vancouver on March 10 (6 pm ET, TSN/RDS in French).
"I know them pretty well,” head coach Jesse Marsch said of the Whitecaps. "I have a good understanding of who they are, but things change from year to year and they’ll obviously have a new look. It’s a great opportunity for us to open against a franchise rival."
Being on the road may not always seem like the ideal way to start the season, but Marsch sees this first game as the ideal test for his team.
"It’s our first real trial,” he said. "Hopefully we can have a successful game, iron a few things out so that we’ll be firing a bit more on all cylinders when we come back home."