Nicolas Anelka looks set to pave the way for a return to the English Premier League during the January transfer window after opening talks to terminate his deal in China.
The former Chelsea striker's troubled spell at Shanghai Shenhua seems set to end in January after the club admitted it was in talks with Anelka over his future.
"The discussion is between the club and himself, I don't know about the specific details," Shanghai Shenhua spokesman Ma Yue said.
"But so far we haven't got the final result."
Reports from China suggest Anelka - who signed for the Shanghai side at the beginning of last season - will forfeit as much as $7m (Dh25m) in wages in exchange for being allowed to leave on a free transfer.
Anelka, who has 69 caps for France, made headlines when he joined the Chinese side, but his presence failed to inspire them and he scored just three goals as Shanghai finished ninth in the league.
He was made player-coach after the dismissal of Jean Tigana, before Sergio Batista was brought in to manage the side despite objections Anelka.
Former Chelsea teammate Didier Drogba also joined the side after leaving the European Champions in the summer.
The team are bankrolled by colourful video-game mogul Zhu Jun, but have been embroiled in rows over unpaid wages amid a highly publicised boardroom dispute.