Nicolas Anelka is challenged by Ryan Taylor of Newcastle during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Newcastle United at Stamford Bridge on May 15, 2011 in London, England.
China's Super League club Shanghai Shenhua confirmed on Monday the signing of Chelsea striker Nicolas Anelka, the highest-profile foreign footballer ever to play in the world's most populous country.
However, worries quickly arouse that the arrival of Anelka could turn out an inflator of Chinese soccer.
"I believe it could be an ill omen of the weak Chinese soccer, we spend too much on well established stars while we are too mean in nuturing our own young talents," a soccer fan wrote on his micro blog.
With a two-year contract reportedly worth more than 200,000 pounds (about $313,000) per week, the 32-year-old Frenchman is the country's most expensive soccer import ever.
But he may also be the starter of the Super League transfer market blockbuster this winter, only to see the long queues lining outside Chinese club managers' offices.
Anelka's Chelsea teammate, Didier Drogba is reportedly linked with Shanghai Shenhua, too.
Guangzhou Evergrande, who splashed out $7.5 million on Brizilian strikers Cleo and Muriqui and another $10 million on Argentine Dario Conca, announced they would spend more than $100 million next season.
However, Chinese soccer could not afford this kind of big spending, especially at this time, said pundits.
Despite the efforts of Spanish coach Jose Camacho, Chinese national team crashed out of the Asian zone final qualifying round for the 2014 World Cup, disappointing millions of Chinese fans.
Cai Zhenhua, deputy sports minister of China, believed it was "systematic" problems to blame for the dismal performances of the national team.
"We were far behind the international level in many aspects including the soccer population, the training regimen and the professional league," he said.
According to the Chinese Football Association (CFA), the soccer population has reduced from 500,000 in 2000 to less than 10,000.
In 2009, China launched a soccer promoting program in 46 cities at school level, but the initiative has met with many obstacles, money tops the list.
"One million yuan (about $160,000) would help fulfill the soccer dreams of 50 boys a year, but it is really a huge number for us," Chen Ze, a soccer trainer in South China's Meizhou city. In fact, that equals only a half of Anelka's weekly wage at Shenhua.
"What if the Chinese club spend on grooming youth players?" asked a netizen surnamed Xu.