Sergio Batista said he needed to meet Drogba to check on his physical condition before deciding whether to play him in Saturday’s home match against Liaoning Whowin. The players had been away for the international break.
“Nicolas (Anelka) will start. As for the other two, Didier (Drogba) and Giovanni (Moreno), I have not seen them,” he said through a translator, adding that he had been told all the players were back in China.
“When they arrive (at the stadium later Friday for training), I will communicate with them and see what their condition is, and decide whether they will take the field.”
With Drogba back in the country, “I guess that means the problem has basically been resolved”, he added.
There has been frenzied speculation about the future of Shanghai’s international stars, particularly Drogba, who only joined in the summer on what is believed to be one of the highest-paid salaries in world football.
It came after Shenhua’s billionaire chairman Zhu Jun reportedly threatened to withhold the foreign stars’ huge salaries unless other shareholders granted him majority control.
Goalkeeping coach Ian Walker, once of Tottenham Hotspur, confirmed to AFP: “Some of the players have been away. Everybody’s back. It should be OK.”
Club officials also confirmed that Anelka, his former Chelsea team-mate Drogba and Colombian midfielder Moreno were back in Shanghai after the two-week international break.
Anelka greeted fans at Shanghai’s Hongkou Stadium on Friday but did not speak to reporters.
Batista declined to give details of the dispute between Shenhua shareholders which reportedly threatened the foreign players’ salaries.
An unnamed senior club executive told China’s Titan Sports last month that Zhu Jun had threatened to “only pay for foreign players based on his own stake”, so that “they may not be able to attend future matches”.
Shenhua are bankrolled by Zhu, a colourful online gaming tycoon, and the signings of the ex-Chelsea players — for reported salaries in excess of $300,000 a week — made headlines around the world.
Their arrival highlighted a dramatic revamp of the corruption-plagued Chinese Super League (CSL), which has spent big on overseas talent including World Cup-winning coach Marcello Lippi, who joined Guangzhou Evergrande.