WEF Exclusive: Drogba to join Shenhua next week on two-year deal worth 14 million pounds
Didier Drogba will join Shanghai Shenhua next week, a source close to the long-running transfer saga has told , with the Chinese media reporting a two-year deal worth a whopping 14 million UK pounds is very close to being signed.
Just a couple of weeks ago, it looked as Shenhua’s efforts to capture the Ivorian striker had finally come to nothing, after Nicolas Anelka told the Chinese press he knew what Drogba’s decision over his future was, and that he would have “no regrets if Drogba didn’t join, because there are many other excellent players in the world.”
But the source told Drogba would in fact be joining Shenhua in the near future and that recent news stories to the contrary were PR stunts carried out at the behest of the club’s attention-seeking owner.
The source said, “It’s all hype, a smokescreen, orchestrated by Zhu Jun to keep the club in the headlines and divert attention from Shenhua’s lacking performances so far. I wouldn’t say Drogba was going to sign for Shenhua all along since all this started – but all I can say now is that he is coming and will most likely sign soon after the Champions League final.”
Rumours are currently circulating on China’s social networks with Shenhua fans describing Drogba as their club’s “savior” in waiting and saying they believe his signing is imminent.
The soonest Drogba could make his debut for Shenhua would be Shenhua’s match away to Qingdao on July 1. The Chinese Super League transfer window does not open until June 1, Drogba is likely to be involved in two Ivory Coast World Cup qualifiers on June 2 and 9, and then Chinese Super League goes on a break for a couple of weeks.
Shenhua are also believed to be interested in signing Spanish midfielder Marcos Senna, captain of Villareal, relegated from La Liga last weekend.
The Beijing Times reported that a “high level Shenhua official” said “The team needs to buy a strong midfielder in the summer transfer window, to deliver passes to Anelka and the new striker”.
Should Shenhua sign another new striker and midfielder, Mattieu Manset, who has been a total flop during his spell in the Chinese Super League, would return to Reading at the end of his loan in June, and another foreign player, most likely Bosnian midfielder Bozic, would also need to leave the club to create space on Shenhua’s foreign roster.
Author: Cameron Wilson
UK trained journalist and long-time Chinese football observer Cameron Wilson has been writing about Chinese football since 2005 for various International and China-based news outlets such as Agence France-Presse, Goal.com, Shanghaiist, China Sports Review, That’s Shanghai, Time out Shanghai and City Weekend. In August 2010 he decided to launch a website dedicated to Chinese football as a central despository for all of his writings ont he subject.
He’s traveled all over China following Shanghai Shenhua as a fully paid-up member of its infamous Blue Devil’s supporters group.
His association with China stretches back over a decade, having first arrived in August 2000 to teach English for a year in a rural town a few hours northwest of Shanghai. He took in his first Chinese football match during this time – a 2-1 victory for Shanghai Shenhua against Dalian Shide. He went home to the UK in July 2001 but returned to China to live in Shanghai in 2005. Since then he’s been a Shanghai Shenhua season ticket holder and a member of the Blue Devil’s supporters’ club. The views expressed by him on Wild East Football may suffer from a slight bias to this effect.
He is also however, still very much a fan of his hometown team, Dunfermline Athletic. A “Par from afar”, as it were.
A passionate believer in the power of the beautiful game to build bridges between diverse peoples and cultures, he was the first foreign fan to travel with the Blue Devil fans’ club to an away match – a tremendous 3-2 victory for Shenhua over Beijng Guoan in September 2007.
Cameron speaks decent mandarin and can crack jokes in Shanghainese.