Anelka told to adapt ahead of China challenge

The number of stops and spats during his well-travelled career could well be a nod to his intransigence, but French striker Nicolas Anelka better learn to adapt - and fast - if he is to succeed in China, says one player who helped pave the road to the East.

The 32-year-old hit-man leaves Chelsea next month to begin a new chapter at Shanghai Shenhua after agreeing a two-year deal reported to be worth up to $300,000 per week.

But Swedish midfielder Pelle Blohm, who became an overnight superstar in China when he joined Dalian Wanda from IFK Norrkoping in 1996, says such riches and star status will not be enough to protect Anelka from the clashes that occur when Asian and European football cultures meet.

"The culture clashes will still be there. If you're not prepared when you get to Asia, it could be a problem for Anelka," Blohm told Reuters. "It's the little day-to-day things that are hard to put your finger on that can cause problems.

"You don't say what you think straight out, you can't get overtly angry because then you lose face... Anelka is a superstar so he'll probably get away with it, but it can still be pretty tough. It's not Europe he's going to, it's a completely different culture."

One immediately obvious area in which the culture differences manifest themselves is in the stands, Blohm said, and it can take some getting used to for a Westerner.

"Every country has its own way of celebrating and you have to understand Asia to understand how they are on the terraces," he explained.

"They'll often laugh if someone gets a ball in the face for example - they're ashamed for that player because he loses face, but they laugh at the situation.


"There can be some odd situations, where people laugh in the wrong places and don't behave like English fans. It's about understanding Asia and the Chinese."

On the pitch too, Anelka must be ready to make concessions, the Swede says.

"Football-wise there's a risk that he'll be alone in his quality. As an attacker it's about scoring goals, and he'll have to help his team mates, and even if things have developed, the Chinese league is not the best in the world."

"He'll probably be a little frustrated. He'll need to lower his demands for where he wants the ball played, and to be humble in that situation."

When Blohm joined Dalian Wanda as the Chinese League, previously closed to the outside world, started to open up, the signing of the central midfielder caused almost as much of a stir as the announcement that Anelka was to join Shanghai from Chelsea.

The long-haired, tough-tackling playmaker was nicknamed "the Great Wall" as he led Wanda to the title in his single season there.

"I played in China's best team, we won the league and I was named China's best midfielder, so somewhere there I was a superstar. We always had a TV team following us, sometimes two," Blohm said in a telephone interview.

But despite the stardom and success on the pitch, Blohm never quite got used to being the centre of attention. He left Dalian to join Viking Stavanger before finishing his career in Sweden with GAIS.