Didier Drogba intends to stay at Chelsea at least until the end of the season, rejecting speculation of a money-spinning move to ambitious Chinese team Shanghai Shenhua in the January transfer window.
Sections of the British media are reporting that the Chinese team is ready to buy the 33-year-old Drogba this month and pay him a stunning 270,000 pounds ($420,000) a week, making him one of the highest-earning players in world football.
In an interview with France Football, Drogba, who is on duty with the Ivory Coast at the African Nations Cup, said he wants to “start having more fun again, more sensations, more enthusiasm, pressure and passion out on the pitch.”
When asked if that meant leaving Chelsea, Drogba said: “Not before June, in any case.”
With Drogba’s contract at Chelsea set to expire in June, he is free to talk to other clubs. Chelsea is reported to be only offering him a 12-month extension, with Shenhua reportedly promising Drogba a three-year deal.
Shenhua, which is coached by former France midfielder Jean Tigana, has already signed compatriot Nicolas Anelka from Chelsea this month for a reported 200,000 pounds a week.
The signing of Drogba, a two-time African Player of the Year and one of the Premier League’s star players of the past decade, would be a much bigger coup, however, as the club looks to improve on its 11th-place finish in the 16-team Chinese league last season.
Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas said Thursday he is counting on Drogba when he returns from the African Cup of Nations, which starts on Saturday and goes through Feb. 12.
Asked whether he was concerned that Drogba was in talks with Shenhua, Villas-Boas said: “It’s not something that has crossed my mind.”
Drogba has scored 150 goals and won three Premier League titles since joining Chelsea from Marseille for 24 million pounds in 2004.