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Soccer: Evergrande's Lippi dismisses rumors of Drogba swoop

Shanghai Shenhua's striker Didier Drogba controls the ball during the Chinese Super League match against Hangzhou green town at the Shanghai
Shanghai Shenhua's striker Didier Drogba controls the ball during the Chinese Super League match against Hangzhou green town at the Shanghai

BEIJING (Reuters) - Former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba is not a transfer target for Chinese Super League champions Guangzhou Evergrande, coach Marcello Lippi has said.

The Italian told local media there was no substance behind rumors he was planning a raid for Ivory Coast talisman Drogba, who plays for Guangzhou's rivals Shanghai Shenhua.

"I know nothing about Didier Drogba's move," Lippi told Xinhua news agency. "I have never contacted him myself or via anybody since I took charge of Guangzhou."

According to Chinese media speculation, Lippi has been monitoring Drogba, whose future at Shanghai was thrown into doubt recently due an equity stake row among shareholders.

The China Daily claimed Shenhua chairman Zhu Jun had blogged: "Somebody finally came to make a bid (for Drogba)."

Drogba has scored eight goals in 10 appearances since his shock move to China, while Guangzhou's summer signing Lucas Barrios has disappointed.

"I don't know how (the rumors) come," Lippi added.

"I am satisfied with my forwards. We already have Lucas, Muriqui, Cleo and Gao Lin, we don't need another Drogba."

Guangzhou currently head the league standings by three points from Jiangsu Shuntian and can retain the title by beating their closest rivals on October 27.

"I am confident about the team," added the 64-year-old Lippi, who led Italy to the World Cup title in 2006. "I believe we can defend the title."

Shanghai are languishing in ninth place in the 16-team Chinese Super League 20 points behind Guangzhou despite their lavish pre-season spending spree.

Earlier this year, a row among shareholders raised the possibility that Drogba and fellow striker Nicolas Anelka could be sold if the club could not make their salary payments.

Both former Chelsea forwards reportedly earn more than $300,000 a week.

(Reporting by Alastair Himmer in Tokyo; Editing by John O'Brien)

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