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.
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