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Rediff.com  » Sports » Growing economy makes China the new football destination

Growing economy makes China the new football destination

Last updated on: July 10, 2012 09:19 IST

Anelka was the first to make a move

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A look at some stars of the 'beautiful game' who have preferred to move eastwards from their respective European clubs.

China has become the latest destination for football players.

A growing economy, big budgets and a huge interest has ensured the fledgling Chinese Super League has attracted big names in recent times.

While celebrated coaches like Marcelo Lippi, Jean Tigana, Segio Batista and Henk ten Cate are making their presence, so are a few big ticket players.

Rediff.com takes a look at a few stars who have preferred to move eastwards from their respective European clubs.

Nicolas Anelka (Shanghai Shenhua)

The well-traveled Frenchman set the trend at the start of the year.

Nicolas Anelka, having left Chelsea, spurned an offer from former club Paris-Saint Germain to join Shanghai Shenhua.

The 33-year-old made his Super League debut against Beijing Guoan and scored his first goal in March. A month later, Anelka was named as part of the coaching staff to help struggling manager Jean Tigana, who subsequently resigned.

Sergio Batista, who coached the Argentine national side, in the 2006 World Cup, took over as the coach thereafter.

It's not been a smooth journey for Anelka at the struggling club and reports are agog that he is keen on a move back to Europe.


Image: French soccer player Nicolas Anelka of Shanghai Shenhua poses with the Shenhua soccer team jersey during a news conference in Shanghai
Photographs: REUTERS/Carlos Barria

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Drogba joined Anelka at Shanghai Shenhua

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Didier Drogba (Shanghai Shenhua)

He was the star of the show in May this year, helping Chelsea win both the Champions League and the FA Cup.

However, a month later Didier Drogba had made it clear that he would be leaving the Stamford Bridge club.

Last month Shanghai Shenhua confirmed that the 34-year-old has joined former Chelsea teammate Nicolas Anelka at the club.

The Cote d'Ivoire striker has reportedly been paid a whopping 25 million pounds for a two-and-half-year deal.


Photographs: REUTERS

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Kanoute left Seville for Beijing

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Frederic Kanoute (Beijing Guoan)

Frederic Kanoute won two UEFA Cup - the precusor to the Europa League, two Copa del Rey, an UEFA Super Cup and a Spanish Super Cup during a highly prolific seven-year stint with Sevilla.

The former African Footballer of the Year, who scored 136 goals in 209 games for Sevilla between 2005 and 2012, had also played for Olympique Lyon, West Ham United and Tottenham Hotspur.

However, the 34-year-old left the Spanish club last month to join Chinese Super League side Beijing Guoan on a one-and-a-half year deal.


Image: Sevilla's Frederic Kanoute reacts during the Spanish First Division soccer match against Real Mallorca at Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium in Seville
Photographs: REUTERS/Javier Diaz

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Barcelona's loss is Dalian's gain

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Seydou Keita (Dalian Aerbin)

Seydou Keita joined Barcelona from Sevilla in 2008. In the following four years he scored 22 goals in 188 appearances for the Catalan club, winning 14 titles in the process.

However, starts were few and far between.

Last week the midfielder announced his departure from Barcelona.

Soon after, an announcement followed that the 32-year-old had joined the Chinese side Dalian Aerbin.


Image: Mali's Seydou Keita sits on the bench before a training session in Gabon's capital Libreville
Photographs: REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

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Yakubu's goals couldn't help Blackburn stave off relegation

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Yakubu Aiyegbeni (Guangzhou R&F)

In his first season with Blackburn Rovers last year, Yakubu Aiyegbeni was a prolific scorer, finding the net on 18 occasions.

However, it wasn't enough to save the club from relegation.

The Nigerian, who has scored 114 goals in almost a decade in the Premiership, announced a move to Chinese Super League side Guangzhou R&F last month.

The 29-year-old spurned lucrative offers from West Asian clubs to sign a deal that will see him earn a yearly salary of five million euros plus a bonus based on performance.


Photographs: REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

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