GUANGZHOU, China - It could be the warmest winter for Chinese soccer market.
After the Chinese Super League (CSL) club Shanghai Shenhua splashed more than $10 million a year to acquire the league's most high-profile football player Nicolas Anelka, the fresh CSL champions Guangzhou Evergrande finally started to show its ambition.
"I am waiting for next Anelka to join our league," said Liu Yongzhuo, president of Guangzhou Evergrande football club on Monday.
Who will be the next Anelka to join the Chinese soccer league?
Local newspaper reported last week Guangzhou were hunting for Anelka's former teammate Chelsea Striker Didier Drogba.
"Guangzhou was in talk with the 34-year-old striker through his agent," local newspaper New Express quoted a club's senior official as saying.
However, though the club have already spent more than 20 million Yuan ($3.16 million) to recruit four domestic players who have national cap experience, Liu refused to respond to the Drogba rumors. "I am not going to talk about any foreign players until any agreement is made", he said.
But he hinted the possibility that there will be more big names after Anelka to join the Chinese soccer league. "Anelka will definitely benefit the Chinese soccer, I am waiting for next Anelka and I believe there will be next Anelka," Liu said.
The club, funding by China's leading property firm Evergrande, received national applause when they swept the Super league title by a margin of 15 points. The ambitious club has already set sight to international fame after they won their maiden CSL title.
"Our next goal is to become the Asian champions, and for next year I think we could reach the final four in Asian Champions League.
Guangzhou were in Group H which was believed as "Group of death" alongside this year's Asian Champions league runners-up Jeonbuk Hyundai and Japanese J-League Champions Kashiwa.
It is a tough job, but perhaps not so tough for the Guangzhou side who have only spend two seasons to win the top-flight title after they relegated to the second division for match-fixing.
Last season, Argentine Dario Conca smashed the league record of $7 million to join Guangzhou Evergrande, the club also splashed out $7.5 million on Brazilian forward Cleo and Muriqui.
"For that purpose we will spend at least 700 million yuan (about $110 million) next year," Xu Jiayin, the club's owner said earlier this month.
That will be enough to cover the transfer fee and salary for Drogba, or even bigger names.