SHANGHAI Dec 12 The ink is barely dry on
Nicolas Anelka's groundbreaking contract with Shanghai Shenhua
but already the Chinese Super League club is working to pull off
another major transfer coup by signing his Chelsea team mate
Shanghai Director Zhou Jun told Reuters in an interview on
Monday his club had already spoken to Drogba and were ready to
continue their lavish spending if the Ivory Coast international
was prepared to switch west London for the Far East.
Anelka will become the biggest name to ply his trade in the
world's most populous nation when the striker joins Shanghai
Shenhua in January. The Chinese club said on Monday it had
agreed a two-year deal with the Frenchman.
Zhou, who also expects former Bordeaux coach Jean Tigana to
arrive as manager in January, said bringing in foreign talent
was essential for the growth of Chinese soccer, which has been
blighted by scandals and corruption in recent years.
"Drogba is an excellent player. We got in touch with him two
weeks ago," Zhou told Reuters near Shanghai's Pudong training
ground. "From our club's perspective, we have this to say -- If
he is willing to come, we will definitely welcome him."
The signing of Anelka and pursuit of other marquee players
is evidence of the growing financial might of Chinese clubs.
Zhou said the Frenchman would certainly not be taking a
"People are aware of Anelka's Chelsea yearly salary which is
around 5.8 million euros. So when he comes to China it
definitely won't be below this figure," he said.
Anelka's arrival would have a major impact on Chinese
soccer, he added. The 32-year-old would raise the standard of
soccer in the country but he would also set an example to young
people and inspire them to take up the game.
"It's like with the opening up of China," Zhou said. "We
needed to bring in the good stuff from foreign countries for us
to learn from."
Shanghai Shenhua, who finished 11th in the league last year,
were a young club and Anelka's presence would give players
someone to look up to, Zhou added.
Anelka, who's playing career has included stints at Real
Madrid, Arsenal, Paris St Germain and Fenerbahce, is likely to
be joined in Shanghai by compatriot Tigana.
"Tigana, from the looks of it currently, is not a big
problem," said Zhou. "When he was last in Shanghai he said the
next time he is seen there it would be to coach Shenhua Football
"So if you see Tigana at Shanghai International Airport you
know he's our coach."
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)
Please double-click on the newslink:
for more soccer stories