We told you Drogba was not going to Shanghai Shenhua and, like we said, he isn’t — at least not yet. As expected, Chelsea’s not willing to let go of the striker now, but he’ll be free to move in the summer and it seems the lure of Shenhua’s money is going to be too much for the Ivorian striker.
Now the rumors are coming quickly that Drogba is likely to sign with Shenhua for a massive GBP270,000 a week, a truly shocking figure. Shenhua have yet to make any announcement and their owner, the egotistical Zhu Jun, loves the attention he’s getting, so much so that he’s being an online tease through his weibo and saying a lot without really saying anything.
We previously talked about the money Shenhua has already spent on strikers Nicolas Anelka and Joel Griffiths. While Anelka will probably be arriving in Shanghai after Chinese New Year, “the Griff” touched down in Shanghai yesterday to a hero’s welcome from the local fans (and causing many in Beijing to throw up). With two strikers already on the books, it makes one wonder what use a third would be. Further, bringing one in during the midseason break in June brings up even more problems. What if the Griff is knocking them in? Do you put him on the bench and start Drogba? What about your foreigners allotment? You are allowed five foreigners on the roster, do you sign one temporarily for the first few months or only have four? What do you do about the 3+1 (the Chinese Super League allows 3 foreigners on the pitch + 1 Asian player) rule?
The ultimate question is why all this attention on attacking? Last season Shenhua scored 31 goals, on the low side, but another six or seven and they’d be among the ACL sides in goal totals. The team’s problem wasn’t so much scoring goals, it was letting them in, giving up a less than stellar total of 41 goals. Spending the first month of the transfer window focusing on signing not one but three strikers while they have failed to sign any other players, most of all the defenders or goalie that they absolutely need.
Zhu’s telling the media that teams have already started fearing Shenhua, yet that’s far from the case. The combination of Anelka and Drogba would be a very scary strike force in the Chinese Super League, but it really doesn’t matter if you have one goalie who is more concerned with his shoe collection and the other who can’t stop daydreaming about food. Until Shenhua can fix this and their weak defense, it will be unlikely they’ll be kept off the scoreboard, but what does it matter if you end up losing 4-3.
Ground: Hongkou Football Stadium, Hongkou District, Shanghai
Capacity: 35,000 (26,000 for football)
Honours: Chinese top-tier league champions: 1995
Chinese top-tier league runners-up: 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2008
Chinese FA Cup winners: 1998
Chinese FA Cup runners up: 1995, 1997, 2015