Drogba, who left Stamford Bridge for Shanghai Shenhua on a free transfer just six months ago, had applied for special dispensation to be transferred outside of the transfer windows.
It is a first blow for the reign of manager Rafael Benitez, who formally took charge yesterday, and increases the likelihood the club will look to buy a striker in the January window.
Drogba, 34, is allowed to switch clubs in the New Year but is unlikely to as he is set to play for Ivory Coast in the Africa Cup of Nations, which begins on 19 January in South Africa.
The two-time African Player of the Year scored 157 goals in eight seasons at Chelsea, including the crucial late equaliser in May’s historic Champions League triumph over Bayern Munich.
The Blues have struggled to replace Drogba, with £50m Fernando Torres showing only glimpses of good form this term.