Chelsea's Anelka off to China

2011-12-11 12:22

Beijing - Shanghai Shenhua announced on Sunday that Chelsea striker Nicolas Anelka had agreed to join the club, in a major coup for Chinese football.

Club spokesman Ma Yue told AFP the 32-year-old Frenchman could start playing for the team in January, "if all contract details are 100 percent confirmed." He was unable to reveal the value of the deal.

The former Arsenal and Real Madrid star will be the biggest name to appear in China's Super League, which is growing in stature despite significant corruption problems that have left several officials facing jail.

In July, Argentine midfielder Dario Conca became China's most expensive signing - and reportedly, one of the world's best paid players - when he inked a $10 million deal with Guangzhou Evergrande.

The Chinese champions, who are bankrolled by a leading property company and were relegated two seasons ago for match-fixing, have also splashed out $7.5 million on Brazilian forwards Cleo and Muriqui, last season's top scorer.

China's foreign legion also includes Henan Construction's Leandro Netto de Macedo and Shanghai's Luis Salmeron, while Romanian Christian Danalache and Serb Aleksander Jevtic both play for Jiangsu Sainty.

Despite China's vast size and love of football, the national side have only reached one World Cup - in 2002, when they lost all their games without scoring once - while the domestic game has been plagued by scandals and violence.

Shanghai Shenua, 11th in the Chinese league last season, is the latest stop on Anelka's nomadic career, which has also taken in spells at Paris Saint Germain, Liverpool, Manchester City, Bolton Wanderers and Turkey's Fenerbahce.