Drogba to arrive in China on Saturday

By IndepthAfrica
In News
Jul 12th, 2012
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Chelsea’s Ivorian forward Didier Drogba celebrates after scoring a goal during the UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg football match between Chelsea and Barcelona at Stamford Bridge in London on April 18, 2012. AFP PHOTO / GLYN KIRK (Photo credit should read GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)

HANGHAI: Football star Didier Drogba will arrive in China on Saturday to take up his new role at Shanghai Shenhua, his club said, amid high hopes he can reignite the 13th-placed team’s season.

Drogba announced last month he had signed with the big-spending Chinese club until 2014, joining his former Chelsea teammate Nicolas Anelka who started with the team in January.

The Ivory Coast international will arrive on Saturday morning and meet fans at a match against third-ranked Beijing Guoan that evening, Shenhua said in a statement on Tuesday.

A Shenhua official told AFP that Drogba would not play on Saturday.

Shenhua has an away game against Guangzhou Fuli on July 21 but there is speculation Drogba might only take to the field for the first time in a friendly match against Manchester United on July 25.

Shenhua is reportedly paying 200,000 pounds ($314,000) a week to Drogba, 34, who is fresh from leading Chelsea to their long-awaited victory in the Champions League.

However neither side has confirmed his salary.

Despite having Anelka, Shenhua has won just three matches out of 16 in the Chinese Super League, which has 16 clubs.

Shenhua are one of several Chinese football clubs to have gone on a spending spree on foreign players and managers in a bid to raise their game, as the league attempts to shrug off years of damaging corruption scandals.

After a poor start to the season, however, Shenhua sacked French coach Jean Tigana and replaced him with former Argentina national manager Sergio Batista, after briefly naming Anelka as “player-coach”.

Batista said shortly after Drogba’s signing was announced that he was hopeful Shenhua could climb into the top three by season’s end in November.

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