Anelka hopes Drogba will join him in Shanghai

16 February 2012 05:46

Nicolas Anelka on Thursday expressed hopes of playing alongside Chelsea striker Didier Drogba in China, after joining Super League side Shanghai Shenhua for an undisclosed fee.

"I hope Drogba will come. I'm in contact with him very often and if all goes well, we could see him in Shanghai," Anelka told a news conference in the city after arriving on Wednesday.

But Anelka, a former Stamford Bridge team-mate of the Ivory Coast captain, said the decision was not his to make.

"It's up to the club president," he told reporters.

Anelka is the Chinese league's most high-profile signing to date, although Shanghai Shenhua, who finished 11th last season, have refused to disclose how much they paid for the French striker.

Chinese media have said that the former Paris Saint-Germain and Arsenal player would earn up to 234,000 euros ($307,000) a week.

Shanghai Shenhua are currently managed by former France international Jean Tigana, who signed a two-year contract in December.

Anelka said he hoped his presence would help develop the quality of Chinese football and spur other foreign players to come to the country, amid complaints from fans about the mediocre standard of club football.

Fans waited for several hours in the winter cold to see and hear Anelka, who is already a household name for Chinese football fans.

"Every Chinese football fan knows him," said supporter Chi Huashen. "A lot of people will try to get to the stadium to see such a star."

The 23-year-old bank worker added: "Anelka's a good goalscorer. He can help Shenhua dominate the championship."

Anelka is expected to play his first match on March 10 against Jiangsu province outfit Sainty. Shenhua then play their Beijing rivals Guoan on March 16.

The Frenchman's arrival is a sign of the Chinese league's increasing financial resources, as it tries to overcome a series of bribery and corruption scandals.

Earlier on Thursday, a Chinese court jailed four referees, including one who officiated at the 2000 Olympic Games and 2002 World Cup, over a match-fixing and gambling racket that was exposed over two years ago.

Source: AFP