ISTANBUL: Hundreds of Galatasaray fans turned out at Istanbul airport on Friday afternoon to welcome Didier Drogba, the Ivory Coast striker who is set to sign a one-and-a-half-year deal with the Turkish league leaders.
The former Marseille, Chelsea and Shanghai Shenhua star flew in to Istanbul on a private aircraft from London, and briefly greeted the gathered fans before departing with Galatasaray officials.
“I’m really happy to be here,” Drogba said, in English, in an interview with the club’s in-house television channel.
“For me it’s a new challenge, a new part of my life. I will do my best to be successful for the club and for the fans.”
He is set to be officially unveiled to those supporters prior to Sunday evening’s home match against Antalyaspor, who sit four points adrift of Galatasaray at the top of the domestic league.
Drogba, who turns 35 next month, was part of the Ivory Coast side that was eliminated from the Africa Cup of Nations at the quarter-final stage last weekend.
Just six months after leaving European champions Chelsea for China, Drogba will be paid 10 million euros ($13.5 million) for the 18-month period he is set to spend in Istanbul.
He will also receive a bonus of 15,000 euros ($20,000) for each match played.
However, Shanghai Shenhua have claimed that Drogba still belongs to them and have announced their intention to take the matter to the game’s world governing body FIFA.
Drogba, who joins fellow new signing Wesley Sneijder at Galatasaray, can expect to feature for his new club in their Champions League last-16 tie with Schalke 04 this month. -AFP
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