Shanghai confident of signing departing Chelsea hero Didier Drogba
CHINESE club Shanghai Shenhua are confident of securing a move for Didier Drogba, who yesterday confirmed he was leaving Chelsea.
The 34-year-old helped the Blues win the Champions League in Munich to bring the curtain down on a trophy-laden spell in west London.
Ivory Coast international Drogba - signed from Marseille for £24million in 2004 - is now expected to join up with former Blues team-mate Nicolas Anelka at the Chinese Super League club on what would be a lucrative free transfer.
Shanghai Shenhua owner Zhu Jun is quoted as saying in the Oriental Sports Daily: "As of now, Shenhua's negotiations with Drogba are continuing just as planned."
Anelka, 33, joined Shenhua in January and is currently player/coach following the recent sacking of former Fulham boss Jean Tigana.
Meanwhile, former England striker Emile Heskey has been released by Aston Villa after three and a half years with the midlands club.
Heskey had already indicated he would be leaving after the final home game of the campaign against Tottenham and he has not been offered a new contract.
Defender Carlos Cuellar has also parted company with Villa but the Spaniard is looking to remain in England.
Number two keeper Brad Guzan is the third first team squad member to be leaving Villa Park at the end of his contract.
Heskey, who joined Villa from Wigan during January 2009, has made it clear he wants to continue playing and has been linked with his first club, Leicester.
He has been dogged by an achilles problem this season but returned to the side during the latter part of the campaign.
Cuellar moved from Rangers in an £7.8 million deal five years ago and became a versatile performer in operating at right-back, left-back and centre-back.
American international Guzan had to be content with being understudy to Brad Friedel and then Shay Given during his four years at Villa.
But he impressed the then manager Alex McLeish when an injury to Given led to a six-week spell of first team action last season.
Ebby Nelson Addy, Connor Taylor, Charlie Ward, Reece Caira, Richard Bryan, Matthew Coton, Darious Darkin and Seb Jenkins have also been released from the academy.