Didier Drogba and Nicloas Anelka
The China careers of former Chelsea strikers Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka are in doubt amid reports of unpaid wages at the end of a tumultuous year at Shanghai Shenhua.
Local media have reported Frenchman Anelka’s management is in talks with the Chinese Super League club to forgo the final year of his contract, while Ivory Coast striker Drogba has been linked with a move back to Europe.
Drogba signed a two-and-a-half year deal reportedly worth around $300 000 per week in June, but the Shanghai-based Oriental Sports Daily said last week the 34-year-old was owed wages in the wake of a long-running equity row at the club.
Drogba applied for permission last month to leave Shanghai on loan before the January transfer window, but Fifa refused the request.
He has since returned to Chelsea to train at his former club in a bid to stay sharp for the African Nations Cup, which starts on January 19, fuelling speculation of a return to Europe.
A Shenhua spokesman confirmed to Reuters that Anelka was in talks with the club regarding his playing future, but declined to comment on whether Drogba had confirmed he would return to Shanghai after playing the African Nations Cup.
“They are still contracted players, and nothing has changed in that regard,” he told Reuters by telephone on Tuesday.
The loss of the two high-profile forwards would come as a huge blow to the club and the Chinese Super League, which had trumpeted their arrivals as a sign of faith in the competition after years of being mired in corruption scandals.
Despite the fanfare, Shanghai’s hopes of a run to the title on the back of their prized recruits crumbled during a wayward season blighted by in-fighting.
Shanghai started the year favourites to win the 2012 premiership, thanks to a massive cash injection from their colourful owner Zhu June
The online gaming tycoon secured former Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea striker Anelka’s signature a year ago, and further raised expectations by appointing former Fulham manager Jean Tigana as head coach.