Didier Drogba had hoped to end his career at Chelsea but the club's desire to blood new players convinced him it was time to leave.
Drogba enjoyed eight years at Stamford Bridge but he left the club during the summer just days after scoring the winning penalty in the Champions League final against Bayern Munich.
The Ivory Coast international had hoped to remain with the Blues but it eventually became clear to him that Chelsea were going in a new direction, convincing him to accept Shanghai Shenhua's offer.
"My priority was to stay at Chelsea to finish my career there, at the highest level, but the club wanted to bring new blood into the group," he told France Football.
"So we had negotiations for months without finding any agreement.
"I had the offer from Shanghai but I hesitated and hesitated. Finally I followed the advice of my former Le Mans coach and wrote two columns with the pros and cons of moving to China.
"I made my decision to leave before the Champions League final, even if I didn't sign anything at that moment.
"If we hadn't won I don't know how I would have reacted. Victory helped me to leave. It was the right time to go."
Drogba is due to represent the Ivory Coast at the Africa Cup of Nations in January and he could seek permission from Shanghai to return to Chelsea to maintain his fitness during the Chinese off season.
"At first I have to ask for authorisation from my club and then from Chelsea. And if everyone agrees it is possible I could go and train there ahead of the next Africa Cup of Nations," he told France Football.
Drogba's time in China has not been without incident as he was linked with a move back to England amid reports of a salary dispute.
The striker insists that was never the case and he maintains he has never had a problem at the club.
"It is absolutely false that I have been paid late at any point - I've never had this problem here," he declared.
"At the ages of 20 or 25 players size each other up a bit on that subject, but not at my age. Among everyone who criticises me for my salary, I would not find one that tells me he would refuse that contract if it was under his eyes."