Shenhua Shanghai, the Chinese Super League club that made the game-changing move to sign ex-Chelsea stars Nicolas Anelka and Didier Drogba, is facing a player insurrection over unpaid wages.
The players, Anelka included, boycotted practice on Monday and could skip the club’s next match if the money owed to them isn’t paid. You can’t help but wonder if everyone else would get paid if it wasn’t for those pesky aging stars. Ahem.
Not that Nico and Drogs can’t still contribute. Drogba is in high demand, apparently, having been linked to defending Super League champion Guangzhou Evergrande (I will never get tired of that name). Guangzhou’s manager, Marcelo Lippi (yes, that Marcelo Lippi) has denied the rumor, even while the man attempted to take control of Shenhua Shanghai, Zhu Jun, tweeted (well, it’s not tweeting—it’s the Chinese equivalent, so weibo…d) that Guangzhou is actively bidding for Drogba. Considering the money crunch in Shanghai, maybe overloading the Ivorian would be a good idea.
“I know nothing about Didier Drogba’s move, I have never contact him myself or via somebody since I took charge of Guangzhou Evergrande,” Lippi told Xinhua after Guangzhou’s training session on Thursday afternoon.
“I don’t know how it comes, I am satisfied with my forwards. We already have Lucas (Barrios), Muriqui, Cleo and Gao Lin, we don’t need another Drogba,” the 64-year old Italian said.
On top of that whole Nico as player/manager nonsense and ongoing match-fixing issues of various severity, all of this is pretty boring. Clubs don’t pay their players all the time, unfortunately. It’s just that Chinese soccer is supposed to be taking over the world, and bickering billionaires aren’t going to make that happen if they’re bickering.
Chinese soccer’s massive potential is why IMG just signed a 10-year marketing deal with the Super League.
Also, a new generation of Chinese billionaires has taken over the 16-team Chinese Super League and has begun to import some of the biggest stars in the world. Last year Argentinean player Dario Conca, one of the top players in the Brazilian league, joined Guangzhou Evergrande, and French star Nicolas Anelka joined Shanghai Shenhua. Ivory Coast’s Didier Drogba this year also joined the Shanghai club, just weeks after helping Chelsea win the European Football Championship.
Mr. Drogba’s move signaled China’s emergence as a growing force in international soccer.
“The Drogba signing was transformational,” said Jefferson Slack, IMG’s senior vice president for business development. The league already has modern stadiums, where the average attendance is about 20,000, he said. “A lot of the really hard work has been done.”
Maybe IMG can help transform Shanghai Shenhua into a team that pays their players. Good place to start, no?
via KCKRS | Elite.
Photo Credit: Getty Images.