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Shanghai Shenhua to sign Anelka on 2-year deal


15:33, December 12, 2011

A picture of Nicolas Anelka from the official website of Shanghai Shenhua Football Club.

SHANGHAI - Shanghai Shenhua have reached an agreement with Chelsea to sign French striker Nicolas Anelka on a two-year deal, the Chinese Super League soccer side said on Monday.

The 32-year-old will join Shenhua in January, the club said in a statement on its website.

Shanghai, who finished 11th in the league last season, have also been linked with Didier Drogba, Anelka's teammate at English Premier League side Chelsea.

Several Chinese clubs have reportedly contacted Cote d'Ivoire international Drogba about a possible transfer. Last month Drogba refused a one-year extension to his contract at Chelsea and the 33-year-old's deal at the London club expires next year.

Local media have reported that former Arsenal and Real Madrid striker Anelka's lucrative contract would involve both soccer and commercial cooperation.

While the signing of Anelka may signal an upswing for the sport in the country, Chinese soccer has lurched from crisis to crisis in recent years and disaffected fans have turned away from the game amid corruption scandals, match-fixing and violence on and off the pitch.

The national team has qualified for the World Cup finals only once when they played in the 2002 edition held in South Korea and Japan but lost all their group matches and failed to score a goal.

In January, they exited the 16-team Asian Cup at the first hurdle after finishing third in their group behind Uzbekistan and hosts Qatar.

Anelka was also a regular starter for the French national team, who plays as a striker. Former Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti has described him as a quick player with good aerial ability, technique, shooting, and movement off the ball.

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