Could Didier Drogba (right) join Nicolas Anelka (left) in Shanghai, and exchange his Chelsea kit for Shenhua blue next year?
With Nicolas Anelka signed up for the upcoming Chinese Super League season, Shanghai Shenhua owner Zhu Jun is already considering poaching none other than the 34-year-old Chelsea mainstay Didier Drogba.
Having made his fortune in granting the Chinese license for World of Warcraft, Zhu looks to be assembling a Francophilic core more often seen in videogames for Shenhua, in the form of Anelka, likely coach Jean Tigana, and now Drogba:
“Drogba is a very excellent player. From the perspective of Chinese football, if these big-name players, these excellent players, are willing to come to China, we are willing to have warm negotiations and communications with them.”
Zhu also compared the signing of big-name talent to the same process China and the rest of Asia has gone to, regarding the wonder that is Western Expertise:
“It’s like with the opening up of China. We needed to bring in the good stuff from foreign countries for us to learn from.”
“The benefits Anelka brings to the club are obvious. Firstly it will definitely increase the squad’s attacking capability.”
“Secondly, the arrival of such a high level football star like Anelka in a young club like Shenhua will increase the hopes of the young people and create an example for them to follow. It will definitely increase the club’s competitiveness.”
Shenhua aren’t alone in desiring the services of the Chelsea forward. Drogba, who’s contract with Chelsea ends this season, already has another suitor in the form of Dalian Aerbin, a recently promoted team that would be willing to offer a 3-year contract worth over $47 million USD, which would see Ivorian international paid the sum of $312,000 USD per week.
Dalian Aerbin’s manager Li Ming spoke plainly about his team’s wish to sign Drogba:
“Money is not the problem. Drogba is still one of the most popular soccer stars in the world, though he will be 34 years old. We have talked a lot with Drogba’s agent and promised to provide him with a three-year contract.”
The figure would best Anelka’s deal, which pays him the relative pittance of 273,000 USD per week for two years.
Then again, it could merely be a strategic move by Zhu to hike up the price other teams would have to pay for Drogba’s services.
It doesn’t make a great deal of sense for Shenhua to deal with the potential friction that would come from having two of the world’s greatest strikers playing on the same CSL team, especially given reports that Anelka was a bit miffed at the idea of being upstaged during earlier contract negotiations:
Zhu Jun’s latest weibo statement said that Anelka and his agent had delayed entering into discussions with lawyers after they heard that Didier Drogba was allegedly coming to play in the CSL for a deal worth around $16 million USD a year.
Zhu Jun said Anelka and his brother were “envious” when they heard the news and he explained the reports were baseless and carelessly written. He added that he hoped the episode was a temporary setback.
Meanwhile, Dalian Aerbin are apparently considering making an offer for former France and Juventus striker David Trezeguet as a contingency plan, in the event that Drogba turns them down.
Regardless of what happens, it must be noted that Shanghai Shenhua, along with Chinese domestic football in general, has now become the center of discussion in the footballing world. Whoda thunk it?