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WEF Exclusive: Matthew Upson to Shanghai Shenhua?

We’re going out on a limb here at as this news has yet to hit English language websites, but this wouldn’t be the first time, when everyone was saying Didier Drogba was headed to Shenhua during the winter transfer window, we told you Matthew Upson.  Shenhua’s upper management has been quoted as saying that this deal is almost complete and is likely to be a loan agreement.  Shenhua has stated that when combining the loan fee and the player’s salary, the fee will add up to around 4 million euros ($5.2 million) and could potentially top that.

The 32-year-old Upson moved to Stoke before the start of the 2011 season but has failed to earn a regular spot in the squad, making only five league appearances and playing mostly in secondary competitions like the Carling Cup and Europa League.  While he is showing his age, his level of experience, including playing for England during their embarrassingly bad 2010 World Cup, and winning a league title at Arsenal, would put him in rarefied air among Chinese Super League imports.  It is also worth noting that he and Shenhua’s biggest foreign pickup to date, Nicolas Anelka, played together during Le Sulk’s days at Arsenal, both players joined the club in 1997.

has consistently highlighted the need for  Shenhua to bolster its back line, but to date the focus has been strikers, purchasing Anelka and Joel Griffiths and, of course, the curious attempt at Drogba.  Shifting to a defensive buy is an important move for the Shanghai club, one that could turn them into potential contenders in the upcoming year. Upson at 32, like Anelka, could still compete at top-level for a few more seasons if motivated.

This sudden development  may be a sign that Shenhua’s new boss Jean Tigana has successfully wrestled control of transfer policy from flamboyant owner Zhu Jun. The need for a solid centre back is obvious to anyone who has watched Shenhua in recent seasons, Tigana may have now discovered this for himself and informed Zhu Jun that the club must use its foreign player slots more wisely rather than going for attention-grabbing and superfluous signings like Drogba.

Brandon Chemers aka B. Cheng aka A Modern Lei Feng – is a name which may be familiar to many in the Chinese blogosphere. He currently serves as Editor-in-Chief for Wild East Football and is one of the lonely souls writing about Chinese football in English for the last 10 years. Chemers' credentials are second to none – his former blog focused not only on the fortunes of his beloved Beijing Guoan FC, but a multitude of other aspects of Beijing life. He’s deservedly built a reputation in the Chinese blogosphere as an insightful observer of not only Chinese football, but also the wider picture of life in modern China and its many layers. For WEF, beyond writing about Guoan, he often focuses on fan culture and the business of Chinese football.

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Shanghai Shenhua

shanghai shenhua logo 2016
Established: 1993

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

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