NEW PASTURES: Didier Drogba has joined Shanghai Shenhua in China. Photo: Mike Hewitt/ Getty Images
SHANGHAI - Football star Didier Drogba will land in China on Saturday to take up his new role at Shanghai Shenhua, the 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 meet fans at a match against third-ranked Beijing Guoan on Saturday evening, Shenhua said yesterday. A Shenhua official told AFP that Drogba would not play on Saturday.
Shenhua have 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 against Manchester United on July 25. Shenhua are reportedly paying £200000 (R1.4-million) 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 have 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 recruited 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, Shenhua sacked French coach Jean Tigana and replaced him with former Argentina manager Sergio Batista, after briefly naming Anelka as player-coach.
Batista said shortly after Drogba's signing that he was hopeful Shenhua could climb into the top three by season's end in November.
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