Former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba today confirmed his long-expected move to Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua. The 34-year-old, who confirmed his intention to leave Stamford Bridge following Chelsea's UEFA Champions League final victory over Bayern Munich, has signed a two-and-a-half year deal reportedly worth £200,000 a week with the Chinese Super League side.
He will join up with former Chelsea colleague Nicolas Anelka, who joined the club in January. Drogba has been linked with Shanghai for several months after contract talks with Chelsea stalled over the length of a new deal.
The Premier League club had said they hoped to keep the Ivorian after he scored the all-important equaliser and then the winning penalty in the Champions League triumph in Munich last month. Drogba today said in a statement released by his agents: "I have considered all the offers I have received in the past few weeks, but feel that Shanghai Shenhua FC is the right move for me at this time.
"I am looking forward to a new challenge, to experiencing a new culture, and excited about the new developments in the Chinese Super League. When Chelsea went to China last year, we had a great time and I met some amazing fans. I hope to help promote Chinese football around the world and further improve the links between China and Africa."
Drogba scored 157 goals in all competitions for Chelsea, finishing with 100 in 226 league appearances since signing from Marseille for £24m in 2004, one of Jose Mourinho's first major signings for the club. He had an exceptional record in cup finals, scoring nine goals in nine different finals, including one in this year's 2-1 FA Cup final victory over Liverpool.
However, he failed to gel with Fernando Torres and began to find himself rotated at Stamford Bridge, despite the huge struggles of the Spaniard following his £50m switch from Liverpool, making it likely he would leave this summer.
Shanghai owner Zhu Jun said: "We have been wanting to sign Didier for a while, and are very happy that it has finally happened. He is an incredible player, who has won so many trophies in his career, we feel that his experience and ability will be a very valuable asset to our squad. Shanghai is one of the most influential cities in the world, and we are very excited to welcome Didier here."
Shanghai's new manager Sergio Batista said: "Drogba is a very good soccer player, his outstanding skills and amazing experience will give us motivation to improve our games. It is my honour to invite him to join in our team. At last I have to say that the club owner Zhu Jun did his utmost to bring Drogba to Shenhua."