Stars return to Shanghai as boardroom issues resolved

Stars return to Shanghai as boardroom issues resolved

SHANGHAI - Agence France-Presse
Stars return to Shanghai as boardroom issues resolved

Shanghai Shenhua’s Drogba is getting one of the highest salaries in world football. AFP photo

Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka are back in China and the boardroom row that threatened their futures at Shanghai Shenhua has been “basically resolved”, the team’s head coach said on Sept. 14.

Sergio Batista said he needed to meet Drogba to check on his physical condition before deciding whether to play him in the home match against Liaoning Whowin Sept. 15. The players had been away for the international break.

“Nicolas (Anelka) will start. As for the other two, Didier (Drogba) and Giovanni (Moreno), I have not seen them,” he said through a translator, adding that he had been told all the players were back in China.

“When they arrive (at the stadium later Sept. 14 for training), I will communicate with them and see what their condition is, and decide whether they will take the field.” With Drogba back in the country, “I guess that means the problem has basically been resolved”, he added.

There has been frenzied speculation about the future of Shanghai’s international stars, particularly Drogba, who only joined in the summer on one of the highest-paid salaries in world football.

It came after Shenhua’s billionaire chairman Zhu Jun reportedly threatened to withhold the foreign stars’ huge salaries unless other shareholders granted him majority control. An unnamed senior club executive told China’s Titan Sports last month that Zhu Jun had threatened to “only pay for foreign players based on his own stake”, so that “they may not be able to attend future matches”.

Shenhua is bankrolled by Zhu, a colorful online gaming tycoon, and the signings of the ex-Chelsea players - for reported salaries in excess of $300,000 a week - made headlines around the world.