China's Guangzhou Evergrande have played down their interest in Chelsea striker Didier Drogba after claiming that they have not been in contact with the Ivorian.
Guangzhou were believed to be lining up an astonishing $625,000 a week deal for Drogba, according to Tuesday's China Daily, but the defending national champions have moved to end speculation over a bold transfer swoop.
"We have (had) no contact with Drogba whatsoever, nor... authorised anyone to contact him," the club said on its official website. "The recent Drogba reports are pure speculation, he is not in our plans."
Chinese rivals Shanghai Shenhua are now in pole position after bringing in Drogba's Chelsea striking partner Nicola Anelka last month. Shanghai director Zhou Jun was quoted as saying: "We will wait for Guangzhou for 10 days... if they do not act, we will."
Drogba, 33, is entering the last six months of his current contract with Chelsea and will be available on a free transfer in the summer.