* Drogba joins former Chelsea team mate Anelka at Shenhua
* More than 300 fans gather to welcome him at airport
(Recasts, adds Drogba quotes)
By Royston Chan
SHANGHAI, July 14 It is not money but the big
challenge in an unfamiliar land that lured Didier Drogba to
China, the Ivory Coast striker said on Saturday.
More than 300 fans gathered at the Shanghai airport to
welcome Drogba on his much-anticipated arrival to join Chinese
Super League strugglers Shanghai Shenhua.
Drogba has signed a two-and-a-half-year contract with the
big-spending club for a reported salary of $300,000 a week,
ending weeks of speculation on his future after he announced his
decision to leave Champions League winners Chelsea.
"I decided to come here because when the club and the
president approached me, I looked at the project and it came
with ambitious ideas and he wants to ... help football develop
in China," Drogba told reporters after his unveiling.
"I know China is a great sports country so for me it was
also a big challenge because it could have been easy for me to
stay in Europe and go to another team, another big team.
"Really, I didn't come here with the idea of making a lot of
money. I come here because it is a completely different
challenge from what I have seen in Europe before.
"And that's the idea, there are many challenges but this one
is a big one."
Drogba's arrival is the latest in a long list of
high-profile names who have made the move to China in recent
Italian World Cup winning coach Marcello Lippi is in charge
of a Guangzhou Evergrande side packed full of skilful South
Drogba, who scored 157 times in 341 appearances for Chelsea
making him the club's fourth all-time leading scorer, is the
biggest catch of them all.
The 34-year old striker will join former Chelsea team mate
Nicolas Anelka at the club struggling at the 13th spot in the
16-club Chinese Super League. Shanghai Shenhua is coached by
former Argentina boss Sergio Batista.
"The results of my new team, they are not so good, not so
great. But you know, the second part of the season just started
and I think we have time to make some better results and to
bring the club to a better place," Drogba said.
"With my team mates, we are going to perform as much as we
can. And I came here to win the league, I am not coming here as
the beginning of the retirement or something like this.
"I want people to make sure and to understand that I am here
to win. I am not here to sit and relax."
The fans arrived in the early hours of the morning at the
Shanghai Pudong International Airport, many dressed in the
club's blue jersey bearing "Drogba 11", and their hopes were
also pinned on the Drogba-Anelka strike force.
"I believe that with his arrival, our results will improve
significantly, because he has a good rapport with Anelka,"
23-year-old Zhu Hongbo said.
"Also, we have brought in a midfield player in (Giovanni)
Moreno. I think for the second half of the year, our results
will improve and we can be in the top three."
(Writing by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Amlan