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He's here, he's hungry

Updated: 2012-02-17 07:44
By Wang Zhenghua ( China Daily)

He's here, he's hungry

French soccer star Nicolas Anelka (L) shows off the jersey he'll wear for Shanghai Shenhua, Feb 16, 2012. He's joined by Tony Park, vice-president of The9 Limited. Anelka is the most high-profile player to ever join the Chinese Super League. [Photo by Gao Erqiang / China Daily]

Star striker makes Shenhua debut, and hopes to be joined by Drogba

SHANGHAI - Nicolas Anelka is happy he's signed with Shanghai Shenhua.

He'll be even happier of Didier Drogba joins him, he said on Thursday.

During his official debut in China, Anelka, the most high-profile foreign soccer player ever to sign for a Chinese league, said he hopes the club is successful in its pursuit of his high-profile former Chelsea teammate.

He's here, he's hungry
"We have been in frequent contact," the striker said. "If everything goes smoothly, he will be able to come. The final decision should be made by our club."

Shanghai Shenhua, which signed the 32 year old from France to a two-year deal late last year, has publicly expressed its interest in Drogba, who reportedly has yet to renew his contract with Chelsea.

Neither Drogba nor Chelsea could be reached for comment on Thursday.

Anelka, who arrived in Shanghai early on Wednesday, met fans at an event on Thursday, when he launched a new online game for a Chinese company headed by Shenhua's major shareholder - a commercial endorsement that will earn him $3.5 million.

Anelka showed up after the big screen showed a virtual version of him, dressed as a future warrior and firing sophisticated weapons.

He declined to comment on the overall level of Chinese soccer as the Super League approaches in March. "I still feel fresh about China's soccer," he said via an interpreter. "We are all a member of the human race, and soccer is not easy to everyone."

But he gave high praise to his new teammate. "My teammates have a very high skill-level," he said. That could represent the level of China's soccer, he added.

Asked if he feels any pressure at the moment, Anelka said the soccer world is always full of pressure, and he has a lot to do after joining his new side.

"I receive very good support from my team members," he said. "With their help, many things turn easy."

He's here, he's hungry

Nicolas Anelka (L) receives a gift from the daughter of Shanghai Shenhua club boss Zhu Jun in Shanghai, Feb 16, 2012. [Photo by Gao Erqiang / China Daily]

Despite his endorsement as an ambassador for the online game, Anelka didn't forget his role as a Shenhua player at the event.

"I should make my own contribution when the CSL kicks off," he said. "I will put my energy into soccer and my club."

Thursday's event was overwhelmed at times by the cheers of hundreds of fans who arrived hours ahead of time and formed a long line outside the venue to get a glimpse of their favorite star.

"You can anticipate such an array only when a real star comes," said Zhang Qi, one of the first fans to arrive.

"We hope Anelka will lead Shenhua to a championship in the Super League," added Zhang, who traveled a long route from Hongkou district to the venue.

Shenhua, 11th in the Chinese league last season, is the latest stop on Anelka's nomadic career. He has also spent time with Paris Saint-Germain, Liverpool, Manchester City, Bolton Wanderers and Turkey's Fenerbahce.

Shenhua players also displayed their new jerseys at the event.

Anelka by numbers

He's here, he's hungry
He's here, he's hungry

Nicolas Anelka greets fans during his official debut in Shanghai, Feb 16, 2012. [Photo by Gao Erqiang / China Daily]

What they're saying about Anelka's future in Shenhua
He's here, he's hungry

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