Anelka arrives in Shanghai

Anelka arrives in Shanghai

SHANGHAI - Agence France-Presse
Anelka arrives in Shanghai

Shanghai Shenhua’s newly-signed forward Nicolas Anelka waits for his immigration check on arrival at the Pudong airport. The transfer of French superstar Anelka highlights a gold rush that could finally drag Chinese football out of the mire. AFP photo

Nicolas Anelka, the most high-profile foreign footballer ever to sign for the Chinese league, arrived to join up with his new side Shanghai Shenhua yesterday, the club said.

China’s legion of football fans are hoping the French international will not only boost Shenhua, who finished in the bottom half of the table last season, but also raise the standard of play in the country’s scandal-hit Super League.

“Anelka finally came to Shenhua. My dream has finally come true,” said one fan, Danni, on his blog. “The club’s performance will definitely be worth watching this year.” Anelka was taken to the luxury Peninsula hotel, where he had breakfast in the lobby lounge while listening to music on his headphones, staff members said.

One waiter who saw Anelka said his star power was a draw for Chinese football. “I will definitely go see a
match this season,” he said.

Anelka’s arrival comes a year after a major crackdown on widespread match-fixing that left senior officials facing jail and severely damaged the reputation of China’s Super League.

Anelka will today launch an online game for a Chinese company -- a commercial endorsement which will net him 2.7 million euros.

Shenhua is the latest stop on Anelka’s nomadic career, which has also taken in Real Madrid, Liverpool and Turkey’s Fenerbahçe.