One month after sealing Chelsea’s victory in the European Champions League final, Didier Drogba signed with Shanghai Shenhua on a two-year contract that will reportedly make him China’s highest-paid player.
Shanghai confirmed the signing on Wednesday, and Drogba said on his website he will join the Chinese Super League team in the country’s financial hub next month.
No details were given on Shanghai’s offer, although local media reported the club was willing to pay as much as $15 million per year.
“I studied all the offers I’ve received in recent weeks and I feel that going to Shanghai Shenhua is the right direction for me now. I’m looking forward to this new challenge, to discover a new culture and I am very enthusiastic about the development of the Chinese football league,’’ Drogba said in his online statement.
On its website adorned with pictures of Drogba against a background of Shanghai skyscrapers, the club lauded the 34-year-old former Chelsea striker as the most dominant player ever to join a CSL team.
“You can see from the online response, the fans are crazy about him,’’ Shanghai spokesman Ma Yue told The Associated Press.
“There has never been a foreign player who has stirred up such a reaction in China. It means a lot to Chinese football and will be of immense help in spreading the CSL brand.’’
The announcement comes days after a reported visit to Drogba’s native Cote d’Ivoire by Shanghai’s owner, Zhu Jun, an online gambling magnate whose fortune has already facilitated the hiring of former Argentina coach Sergio Batista and another former Chelsea player, Nicolas Anelka.