Nicolas Anelka waits for immigration clearance at Shanghai Pudong airport yesterday.
Nicolas Anelka is in Shanghai.
The French striker, who is the most high-profile footballer ever to sign for the Chinese league, arrived yesterday to join his new side Shanghai Shenhua.
The 32-year-old former Chelsea striker posed for a photo with an immigration official at the Shanghai Pudong international airport before being whisked through security to a special VIP exit.
Anelka was taken to the luxury Peninsula hotel where he had breakfast in the lobby lounge while listening to music on his headphones, staff members said.
Shenhua players also arrived yesterday after training in Spain, which was also attended by Anelka.
The season starts in March.
Anelka is due to meet fans at an event today, when he will launch a new online game for a Chinese company headed by Shenhua's major shareholder Zhu Jun, a commercial endorsement which will net Anelka 2.7 million euros.
In an interview with FIFA.com, the well-travelled striker spoke of his fondness for Asia.
"I have always had fond feelings about Asia," the former France international was quoted as saying. "I have been obsessed with the local cultures during my previous trips to the likes of Korea Republic, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand and Chinese Hong Kong and Macau. So I jumped at the chance when Shanghai came to me with an offer."
The Parisien is looking forward to settling down in his new home.
"It is my first time to Shanghai but I know the city is known as the "Paris of the East." Friends who have been there told me it is a magnificent city and I am looking forward to seeing it."
Support from family
"All my family supported me when they learned about my move," Anelka said of the support he got from his family. "Like me, they are interested in the Chinese way of life and this great city. I will definitely arrange short trips to Shanghai for them so we can stay together for some time there."
But he will be watched on the pitch. China's legion of football fans are hoping the French international will not only boost Shenhua, which finished in the bottom half of the table last season, but also raise the standard of play in the country's scandal-hit Super League.
"In football it is teamwork, not individual effort, that matters," Anelka said. "It is too premature to predict anything but I will do my best to acclimatize to Chinese football and help the team achieve a perfect season."