Griffiths hails Drogba commitment

Fully committed ... Shanghai Shenhua striker Didier Drogba (Getty Images)

Joel Griffiths insists that Didier Drogba's commitment to new club Shanghai Shenhua has not wavered - despite the boardroom battle which threatens his future in China.

The Australian striker, who has formed a potent attacking axis with Cote d'Ivoire ace Drogba and Frenchman Nicolas Anelka in recent weeks, says the 34-year-old UEFA Champions League winner is determined not to let uncertainly over who will pay his $250,000 weekly wage bill hamper his desire to fire.

He scored in Shanghai's 3-0 win over Liaoning Hongyun last weekend against a backdrop of bickering between the club's main backer, billionaire Zhu Jun and the board.

Jun is demanding his fellow shareholders honour an agreement to dramatically raise his shareholding in the club as a reward for personally funding big-name signings.

"Didier is happy at the club but he is somebody who commands a certain level of respect," Griffths said.

"He regards China as a personal project and new football frontier for himself, but who knows what will happen over the money side of things. That's beyond his control."

Griffiths, back to his best form as a right-sided attacking midfielder after shrugging off a long-term knee injury, believes his new friend is keen to stay and leave a legacy in China.

Drogba has struck five goals in seven appearances and according to Griffiths is unflinching in his work ethic.

"That's one thing that has surprised me, I really didn't think he would come here so committed to succeed," he said.

"But that just shows what sort of person he is. He treats every game the same, whether it's a Champions League final or a game in the Chinese Super League.

"He wants the ball, he wants to score goals and he wants his name to be remembered in China for all the right reasons. It's so good to have him at the club."

Griffiths, 33, whose own future will be decided in December with the option of a return to the A-League on the table, said: "The way we have been playing I can't see us losing any of the last six games, we are ninth now and have been scoring goals and playing some pretty good football after a horrible start to the season.

"I can see us sneaking in an Asian Champions League spot - that's what we're aiming for. It's a shame that Drogba wasn't here for the start of the season, otherwise we'd be aiming for the top spot."

Griffiths also paid tribute to the other half of Shanghai's attacking axis, much-travelled Anelka, saying: "Most of the attention has been focused on Didier but Nicolas goes under the radar. He's been setting up goals and having Didier here has taken a lot of pressure off him and he is back playing his normal game.

"If we keep this team together, next year is going to be huge for the club."

Griffiths hasn't ruled out being a part of that future. His contract expires at the end of the season but he has impressed since his return from injury, providing several assists and three goals in 12 games.

"That's definitely a possibility and something I would seriously consider if the opportunity was there, especially the way we have been playing lately," he said. "If we keep this team intact I can see the title coming here next year. If we keep the same team I will be more than happy to stay.

"At some stage I would love to go home and finish my career but there's no immediate hurry. We will see what happens.

"It's been a different experience here. At Beijing Guoan I was the go-to man; I never got injured and was scoring regularly. Here I am out on the wing and Drogba is the focal point which is easy to understand because it's hard to compete with that sort of player.

"It enables me to be more involved in the build-up play and we've got some pretty good combinations going.

"Against Liaoning Hongyun on Saturday was probably the best I have felt in a game for about three years. The role I have now involves a lot more running and hard work and it's a totally different role to playing up front - but it's easy when you have Drogba and Anelka around you."

Griffiths also saluted Sydney FC's capture of Alessandro Del Piero, saying: "Four million dollars over two years - Sydney will get their money back with change.

"It's an awesome signing and I'd love to see other A-League clubs follow suit, obviously money permitting. The league needs Del Piero. It has gone a bit stale and it needs characters in the game.

"It needs bit of controversy also. Everybody hated Kevin Muscat but he got people talking and that generates interest from sports fans in general in Australia."

Source SBS