Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson says he may have considered signing Didier Drogba if the striker had opted to remain in the English Premier League after he left Chelsea last month.
After eight years at Stamford Bridge, the Ivory Coast star signed for Chinese side Shanghai Shenhua for a reported STG200,000 ($A303,500) a week, making him the highest-paid player in China and in the top bracket globally.
Ferguson, speaking in Shanghai on Monday ahead of a friendly against Drogba's new team on Wednesday, said he may have pursued the 34-year-old if Drogba had decided against going overseas.
Asked if he was ever interested in Drogba joining the Red Devils, Ferguson said: "I think that the decision was his anyway because he said he was going to leave Chelsea and not play in the English league - that eliminated everyone. I could have been."
Drogba decided to join his old Chelsea team-mate Nicolas Anelka at Shanghai, saying he wanted a "new challenge" outside of England's top flight.
He made an instant impact on his debut in the Chinese Super League, setting up his team's equaliser in a 1-1 draw away to Guangzhou R&F on Sunday (Monday AEST).
United and former England defender Rio Ferdinand said Shanghai will face a test of how much it has developed with its new signings when the teams meet.
"I'm looking forward to it. Obviously there's been a lot of excitement and press coverage about Didier and Anelka coming to Shanghai so it's a great game for both clubs," Ferdinand said.
"Shanghai gets to see where they are at, and obviously at this stage it's our pre-season and the main focus for us is to get to another stage of fitness and get through the game unscathed by injuries."
Unbeaten Guangzhou Evergrande remains top of the Chinese Super League after it thumped Liaoning while Australian midfielder Erik Paartalu's Tianjin Teda drew with Beijing Guoan.