David Beckham is 'unlikely' to be signed by Chinese top-flight team Shanghai Shenhua, according to a club insider.
Bringing to an end new speculation that the former Manchester United star was considering a move to the Chinese team, Shenhua never approached Beckham and has no plans to import the 37-year-old star, according to a source who was briefed by club boss Zhu Jun about the issue.
English newspapers including the Sunday People and The Mirror reported at the weekend that Beckham, one of the best-known international soccer stars in China, was in talks with Shenhua and was likely to earn as much as GBP 350,000 a week to play in the Chinese Super League. He left LA Galaxy earlier this month.
The team, which is embroiled in an ownership dispute with state-owned shareholders, signed former Chelsea strikers Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka last season.
“It was sheer rumour,” the source said. “Shenhua has no financial strength to sign another superstar.”
Zhu, founder of the Nasdaq-listed gaming firm The9, rose into international prominence in 2012 after he successfully brought the former Chelsea strikers to the Chinese league, offering them multi-million-dollar pay cheques. Shenhua once stopped paying the stars’ salaries in September when Zhu fought with the five state-owned partners for the majority control of the club.
Zhu, who owns a 28.5 per cent stake of Shenhua, asked the state-owned shareholders to either give him full control of the club or inject fresh capital to cover the high operating costs.
Anelka recently terminated his contract with the Shanghai team.
Since 2007, Zhu was given the management of Shenhua though he held only a minority stake.
China has increasingly become a new magnet for international soccer stars as the free-spending clubs including the national champions Guangzhou Evergrande have sought to import big-name players and coaches including Lucas Barrios, a striker formerly with German powerhouse Borussia Dortmund and World Cup-winning Italian Marcello Lippi.
On Monday, Beckham insisted he has no intention of rushing into his next move as he considers several offers from teams across the world.
Beckham left LA Galaxy earlier this month at the end of his contract after helping the California side win the MLS Cup and is now looking for the right option for what will likely be the last club of his illustrious career.
The former Real Madrid midfielder, who spent five years in LA, has been been linked with QPR in England and Monaco in France, as well as a team from Australia.
A spokesman for Beckham said the former England captain plans to weigh up his options over the holiday period and isn’t concerned about coming to a quick decision.
“There are a number of serious proposals on the table from a host of clubs across the world,” the spokesperson said.
“David is no hurry to make a decision, the key is making the right one as he has always done successfully in his career.
“It’s early days in the process. David is enjoying spending quality time with his family over the holidays.”