The marraige between Nicolas Anelka and Shanghai Shenhua could dissolve after less than six months. Anelka, who serves as player-manager at the Chinese club, is threatening to walk out because of a lack of support, according to the Telegraph.
“If there is still no one to support me and [they] continue to play little tricks behind my back … then I will quickly decide whether or not to retire,” Anelka said. “This will be decided on what happens in the next few weeks.”
Anelka made headlines in January when he left Chelsea FC for the Far East. He claimed his “obsession” with Asian cultures was the driving force behind the move. His reported salary of £175,000 a week ($14.4 million per year) heralded a new era in Chinese soccer, which would see high-profile and expensive players gracing the Chinese Super League.
But the situation Anelka came into was not a stable one. French manager Jean Tigana was fired in April after a string of poor results and complaints from players. Anelka took over the duties as manager, but results have not improved. After 11 games, Shenhua is mired in 14th place in the 16-team league. It has won just two games and scored seven goals since league play began in March.
“In substance, I exercise the power of head coach, since I decide the players’ list and handle daily training,” Anelka said.
His comments about a lack of support from the club call into question his relationship with chairman Zhu Jun, who was instrumental in bringing the 33-year-old former French international to the club. Chelsea hero Didier Drogba is reportedly close to joining the club on Anelka’s recommendation, but this bombshell casts serious doubt over Drogba’s potential move.
Anelka reportedly signed a two-year contract, so he could not move before January 2014 without the club’s permission. That is likely behind his retirement threats. But if he and the club can agree on a mutual split, there is a chance he could land at a new club in the coming months. Major League Soccer club Montreal Impact was reportedly interested in signing him in late 2011.