Nicolas Anelka's ill-fated move to China appears to be over after Italian club Juventus claimed on Saturday that the former France striker is poised to join on a short-term deal.
Anelka moved to Shanghai Shenhua from English side Chelsea on a two-year contract in January 2012 after agreeing a deal reportedly worth more than $300,000 a week, but could now sign for Juve in a cut-price five-month package worth $800,000.
Shenhua struggled to ninth place in the Chinese Super League last year despite also signing Anelka's former Chelsea teammate Didier Drogba on an even higher pay packet.
Anelka took over as team coach for a brief period after Jean Tigana was sacked, with former Argentina World Cup winner Sergio Batista subsequently being appointed.
The 33-year-old will reportedly join Serie A champions Juventus before the end of the January transfer window, as the club's bosses seek to boost their attacking options ahead of the expected July signing of Spain striker Fernando Llorente.
On Saturday Anelka posted an internet picture of himself at an airport, which fellow Twitter users purported to be en route to that of Juve's home city Turin. He has been training with his first senior team, Paris Saint-Germain.
He has been involved in transfers worth a total $140 million, playing for top clubs such as Real Madrid, Liverpool, Manchester City, Arsenal and Fenerbahce.
"This summer we made a significant investment to try and strengthen the group but clearly at this stage we are in an emergency situation," Juventus sporting director Beppe Marotta told the Sky Italia TV channel.
"As a result, it is logical to make this signing. It should be made official in the next few days. We have an agreement with Anelka for five months with the possibility to sign a further deal if agreeable to both parties."
Juve dropped points in Saturday's frustrating 1-1 draw at home to third-bottom Genoa, but still moved six clear at the top.
Striker Fabio Quagliarella scored his seventh league goal in 15 matches in the 54th minute, but Marco Borriello -- who spent the second half of last season on loan at Juve -- leveled with a diving header quarter of an hour later.
Third-placed Lazio could have cut Juve's then five-point lead to two in Saturday's earlier game, but lost 1-0 to midtable Chievo to stay below Napoli on goal difference.
Napoli can now reduce the deficit in Sunday's trip to Parma, while fourth-placed Inter Milan host Torino.
English Premier League leaders Manchester United reached the fifth round of the FA Cup with a 4-1 victory at home to Fulham, as striker Javier Hernandez netted twice after goals from Wayne Rooney and veteran Ryan Giggs, with a penalty.
Arsenal snatched a 3-2 win at second division Brighton as France striker Olivier Giroud scored twice and fellow forward Theo Walcott came off the bench to strike a decisive late goal.
Norwich became the first top-flight team since 1989 to lose to a non-league side in the world's oldest knockout tournament, crashing 1-0 at home to Luton.
The Premier League's bottom team Queens Park Rangers lost 4-2 at third division MK Dons, following Friday's exit by fellow strugglers Aston Villa at the hands of second tier Millwall.
Manchester City, Everton, Reading and Wigan went through.
In Germany, Bayer Leverkusen returned to second place despite being held 0-0 by Freiburg on Saturday.
Leverkusen moved a point above two-time defending champions Borussia Dortmund, who won 3-0 at home to Nuremberg on Friday.
Bayern Munich go into Sunday's trip to Stuttgart with an eight-point lead.
In Spain, Valencia moved up to fifth place after snatching 3-2 win at bottom club Deportivo La Coruna, as Ricardo Costa headed home in time added on before Paulo Assuncao became the second home player to be sent off.
Deportivo had led 2-1 at halftime through a Riki double, but on-loan Portuguese defender Silvio was sent off seven minutes after the break for a second bookable offense.
Levante earlier won 2-1 at home to midtable Valladolid thanks to a 90th-minute own goal from Serbian defender Antonio Rukavina, which put "Los Granotes" behind their Valencian rivals on goal difference.