Galatasaray launch Drogba bid
Turkish giants Galatasaray have entered talks to bring Ivory Coast captain Didier Drogba back to European football following a short spell in China.
The 34-year-old stirker, who is currently on international duty at the Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa, joined Shanghai Shenhua seven months ago.
"Galatasaray Sports Club has begun official negotiations regarding the transfer of Ivorian professional football player Didier Drogba from FC Shanghai Shenhua," the Turkish club announced on its official website.
Drogba and former Chelsea team-mate Nicolas Anelka have failed to settle in China amid reports of unpaid bonuses, with both strikers currently seeking a return to Europe.
This is despite the fact that Anelka had agreed a two-year contract with Shenhua which reportedly earned him over $300,000 a week, while Drogba was believed to have signed an even more lucrative deal.
Anelka, who is a 1998 World Cup winner, is currently in Italy as he seeks to negotiate a move to join reigning champions Juventus, which the club says will be for an initial five-month period with a view to a longer deal.
"Nicolas Anelka continued his medical ahead of a proposed transfer to Juventus," the club said on its official website on Monday.
"The French forward underwent a series of tests yesterday at Turin's Istituto di Medicina dello Sport and continued with further assessments this morning at the city's Clinica Fornaca di Sessant."
Now 33, Anelka briefly worked as a player-coach at Shenhua following the dismissal of coach Jean Tigana but is now looking to play in Serie A for the first time in his career.
The departure of two marquee signings will represent a major blow for the standing of Chinese football, which has sought to improve its image after a number of match-fixing scandals in recent years.
Founded in 1994, China's first professional football league boomed in its early years until fans fell away after a match-fixing and gambling scandal.
Despite attempts to clean up the sport, one of the country's leading referees -- Lu Jun, who officiated at the 2002 World Cup -- was sentenced to five-and-a-half years in jail in 2012 for his role in fixing matches.
During their time with Shenhua, Drogba and Anelka could only help the team finish ninth in the 16-team Chinese Super League.
The arrival of Drogba at Galatasaray would mark the Turkish club's second significant signing in a week after Dutchman Wesley Sneijder joined the 18-time champions from Italians Inter Milan.
Drogba, who had wanted to go on loan to Chelsea to keep fit for the Nations Cup, is currently preparing for Ivory Coast's final Group D game against Algeria as the West Africans seek to win the tournament for the first time since 1992.
Recently training with his first senior team, Paris Saint-Germain in France, Anelka will boost the offensive options of the Serie A leaders, with Spaniard Fernando Llorente due to join in the summer from Atletico Bilbao.
In a separate development on Monday, the Turin club was handed a series of bans and fines following the aggressive behaviour shown to referee Marco Giuda after he refused to award a late penalty in Saturday's 1-1 draw at home to Genoa.
Coach Antonio Conte was handed a two-game touchline ban and a $13,500 fine by Serie A officials, while defenders Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini were handed two and one-game bans respectively.
Club president Giuseppe Marotta was suspended from carrying out of any his functions until 18 February for challenging the officials in an "intimidating and insulting manner in their dressing room".
"Juventus are fined 50,000 euros ($67,250) for failing to control fans who spat in the faces and on the clothes of officials as they left the pitch," added the statement by Serie A's disciplinary body.