Shanghai (AFP) – Chelsea and Ivory Coast idol Didier Drogba Wednesday said he had signed a two-and-a-half-year deal with Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua, where he will join former team-mate Nicolas Anelka.
The announcement ends months of speculation about the big-money move, in which the striker will become China’s best paid player with wages of 200,000 pounds ($314,000) a week, according to local reports.
“Today I can inform you that I have signed with Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua FC for a two-and-a-half year deal (until the end of 2014),” Drogba said on his website. “I will fly out to join up with the squad in July.”
Shanghai Shenhua posted a picture of Drogba wearing the team shirt on its website, although a spokesman declined to comment on the deal when contacted by AFP.
Drogba becomes the latest high-profile recruit to the ambitious Chinese Super League, whose champions Guangzhou Evergrande snared the services of World Cup-winning coach Marcello Lippi in May. Anelka joined Shenhua in January.
Drogba, who is leaving Chelsea after his match-winning role in the Champions League final, and as one of the English Premiership’s most feared strikers, said he had received other offers but Shanghai “is the right move for me at this time”.
“I am looking forward to a new challenge and to experiencing a new culture, and I am excited about the new developments in the Chinese Super League,” he said.
“When Chelsea went to China last year, we had a great time and I met some amazing fans.
“I hope to help promote Chinese football around the world and further improve the links between China and Africa.”