drogba, serie a, juventus, Gazzetta dello Sport, chinese super league, Shanghai Shenhua
-File photo

MILAN: Juventus are still hoping to lure Didier Drogba to the club with an 18-month deal, according to speculation in the Italian press.

Drogba signed a two-and-a-half-year deal with Shanghai Shenhua in July but that has not stopped Italy's sports press from repeatedly talking up the Ivorian striker's departure from China in favour of Serie A.

Few Italian clubs speak candidly about potential transfer targets, and while Gazzetta dello Sport cited no official sources their report claimed Juventus had offered Drogba an 18-month deal that would begin in January and end in June 2014.

It underlined previous reports claiming the Ivorian was unhappy after a turbulent start to his career in the Chinese top flight where, despite his goals, Shanghai have largely flattered to deceive.

The report claimed Drogba had turned down Juventus's offer because he would prefer the contract to run until June 2015.

There were other stipulations that could hamper the deal, according to Gazzetta.

It said Drogba, who moved to Chelsea in 2004 and eventually led the English club to Champions League triumph last season, would expect to be released for the Africa Cup of Nations, which is held January 19-February 10.

Potentially, that could be a problem for Juventus, who will be involved in the last 16 of the Champions League on February 12 and 20.

Drogba also appeared to commit to the Chinese side in a recent interview.

“Because I joined Shenhua relatively late, I didn't prepare with the team early in the season, so our results this year were not very good,” said Drogba, according to a report in the Shanghai Morning Post.

“But I hope next season I can start again from the beginning with Shenhua.”

Speculation linking Juve with Fernando Llorente, meanwhile, continues despite the striker, who can leave Athletic Bilbao on a free transfer at the end of the season, saying on Wednesday he would prefer to move to England's Premier League.

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