Chinese Super League champions Guangzhou Evergrande could be planning an audacious bid for Chelsea striker Didier Drogba, after a rival club bought Nicolas Anelka, a report said on Tuesday.
Shanghai Shenhua this month announced the signing of Drogba's former Chelsea teammate Anelka in the most high-profile deal yet for the scandal-plagued Chinese league.
Now Guangzhou Evergrande are looking to match Shanghai's new firepower by possibly making an even more dramatic bid to bring Drogba to China, ahead of next year's Asian Champions League, the Yangcheng Evening News said.
The southern Chinese club, based near Hong Kong, had no comment on the report when contacted by AFP.
Shanghai themselves, having also brought in French coach Jean Tigana, may have their own interest in the 33-year-old Drogba, according to previous reports.
Anelka, 32, will reportedly earn about £200 000 a week at Shanghai, although Shenhua dispute the figure and have not revealed the transfer cost.
Guangzhou have spent $3.16 million dollars in recent days in signing four Chinese national players as they prepare to defend their Super League title and confront Asia's best in the champions league, Xinhua news agency said.
Guangzhou are in Group H, the so-called "group of death", alongside 2011 Asian runners-up Jeonbuk Hyundai and Japanese J-League champions Kashiwa.
Chinese football has long been mired in scandals like match-fixing and gambling, but clubs enriched by the country's industrial boom last season began spending big on players.