The wait is over – Didier Drogba has announced he has signed a two-and-a-half year contract with Shanghai Shenhua, albeit a little later than exclusively forecasted.
In a statement written in French released today, Drogba said he was pleased to confirm he was heading east, after a long and drawn out six month transfer saga.
“Today I have the pleasure to confirm that I have signed a contract with the Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua,” said Drogba as he broke the news on his personal website, “I have signed a contract for 2 and a half years, until 31 December 2014 and I will join the team during the month of July.”
The 34-year-old legendary Chelsea striker said, “I have studied all offers I have received during the past weeks and my feeling is that going to Shanghai Shenhua is the best direction for me at the present time.”
He added, “I am eager to take up this new challenge, to discover a new culture and I am very enthusiastic about the development of the Chinese football league. When I came to China last year with Chelsea , we had good times and met extraordinary fans.”
The Ivory Coast international concluded, “I hope to help promote Chinese football around the world and to help improve the links that China and Africa share.”
Drogba is said to be on a contract worth 9.5 million UK pounds a year, but as yet various figures are flying around as to how much the deal is worth.
The striker now becomes the biggest ever name to play in the CSL and he will most likely make his debut for Shenhua against bitter rival Beijing Guoan at Hongkou Stadium on July 14.
[French to English translation by Vincient Boireau]
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