Didier Drogba's hopes of an emotional return to Chelsea have been blocked by Fifa, writes Martin Hardy.
Football's governing body held firm on its rule that no player can move between clubs outside of the transfer window.
The 34-year-old forward left Stamford Bridge in the summer for nothing, when he signed a lucrative contract with the Chinese Super League side Shanghai Shenhua.
Their season ended last month and the player had expressed an interest in rejoining Chelsea with a view to training and then possibly playing for them in the Premier League in order to keep fit ahead of the African Cup of Nations, which begins on January 19.
"We can confirm that Didier Drogba submitted a request for authorisation to be registered outside an open registration period for a club on a loan basis," a Fifa statement said.
"Fifa has informed him about the relevant regulations... that players may only be registered during one of the two annual registration periods fixed by the relevant association."