China's Super League football gets Drogba
By Vincent Tan
The mobile phone of Chinese multi-millionaire Zhu Jun, the owner of Shanghai Shenhua Football Club, has been ringing non-stop since news broke out that he has signed up superstar Didier Drogba.
Sports journalists worldwide have been trying to call him for an interview to find out how he intends to use Drogba, the former Chelsea star, with Nicolas Anelka in the Chinese Super League. Zhu, however, was on holiday here and gave an interview to The Star.
"I decided to take a holiday in Kuala Lumpur for a breather," said the 45-year-old video game tycoon, adding he had Malay food and durians for the past two days. Playing down the hype over the Chinese league, the businessman said China still had a long way to go compared to the English and Spanish leagues.
"By signing up big names such as Anelka and Drogba, and even our new coach Sergio Batista, we hope to generate excitement and attention. It is also one way to raise the skill level in our club and the league in general," he said, adding Shanghai Shenhua hoped to do better than its current 11th placing in the league, which has 18 teams.
Zhu, who is known for his controversial management of the club, is an industrialist and founder of The9Ltd–a video game company. He would not confirm Drogba's salary, saying it was confidential although there have been reports that he could earn up to £25mil (RM125mil) in his 2½-year contract.
"Drogba's presence should relieve some burden from coach-player Anelka and we'll see an improvement in the club's form," he added.
Zhu also praised the development of Malaysian midfielder Tam Sheang Tsung, 17, who was promoted to the club's first team last month. "He's young and has plenty of potential. His only disadvantage is that the Westerners are older and physically more powerful.
"Otherwise, he is very fast on his feet and I would rate his skill as being on par with the Western players," said Zhu. "It is possible that Tam will play in the coming Manchester United friendly on July 25, but of course that's up to the coach to decide," he added.
Published: 23rd June 2012