The 32-year-old Anelka, who is in the final season of his contract with English Premier League club Chelsea, will move to China on a permanent transfer next month, making the French striker the most high-profile overseas player in the Chinese league.
A media officer for the Shanghai club, who refused to give his name, would not comment on news reports in Britain that Anelka’s teammate Didier Drogba was a target of the club.
“There have been many rumours about this as you know. All we can say is that we are looking at other players, too, apart from Anelka. But it’s not convenient for us to give specific information until things get confirmed,” he said.
Shanghai Shenhua has already said it was expecting to sign Jean Tigana as coach, and the club official said he could arrive in China’s financial centre this week.
“If he does make it here this week, then we will be able to sign the deal. As for how long the deal will be, it will probably be for one year as he said he would like it to be.”
The former France midfielder, who won the European Championship as a player alongside Michel Platini in 1984, previously managed Lyon, Monaco, Fulham, Besiktas and Bordeaux.
He visited Shanghai in November and inspected Shenhua’s facilities, Ma said. Tigana last week contacted France’s national union of managers to ask about assistants who could join him in China.
Neither Shanghai nor Chelsea have released details of Anelka’s two-year contract, but the French sports daily L’Equipe, without citing sources, said last week that Shenhua had offered the 32-year-old 10.6 million ($14.2 million) per season for two seasons.
The fee is unlikely to approach the 15 million pounds (then $29.8 million) Chelsea paid English rival Bolton for Anelka in January 2008. Anelka is no longer in his prime and the club is likely to be happy to recoup even a small fee since he would be eligible for a free transfer when his contract expires at the end of the season.
The much-traveled Anelka won the Premier League and two FA Cup titles with Chelsea. He also won the Premier League title and FA Cup with Arsenal, the 2000 Champions League with Real Madrid and the Turkish league with Fenerbahce.
Anelka’s other clubs were Paris Saint-Germain, Liverpool, Manchester City, Fenerbahce and Bolton.