When asked by Reuters whether he was in town to sign for the club as their manager, the 49-year-old simply nodded.
Club spokesperson Ma Yue was at the airport to greet him.
"We are close to signing him as head coach, there are just a few details to sort out," he said, adding that Batista would not be ready to take charge for this Sunday's Chinese Super League game at home to Guizhou Renhe.
One of Batista's party, who did not give his name but identified himself as the Argentine's manager, said Batista is set to sign a formal contract on Saturday.
With Chinese clubs enjoying a boom with heavy financial investment, instant results are expected.
League leaders Guangzhou Evergrande sacked Lee Jang-soo last week and replaced him with former World Cup winning coach Marcello Lippi despite the South Korean winning the Chinese league title last year and getting them through to the last 16 of the Asian Champions League.
Shanghai languish in 14th place of 16 teams in the CSL, with just 11 points from 11 matches - 14 points behind the leaders.
The club signed French striker Nicolas Anelka from Chelsea in December on a two-year deal worth a reported $300,000 a week.
Much was expected of the 33-year-old, but the much-travelled former Arsenal, Real Madrid and Fenerbahce striker has scored just two goals this season.
He took on coaching responsibilities last month when his compatriot, former France international Jean Tigana, was sacked after four months at the helm.
"I don't know this coach," Anelka said of Batista. "I haven't heard anything about this from the club. I have only learnt this from the media.
"If that is going to happen, there is a huge problem of communication between me and the club, because of the language barrier. I am not aware of anything that is happening."
Shanghai continues to be linked with Anelka's former team-mate and Champions League final goalscorer and match-winner Didier Drogba, who announced earlier this week he was leaving Chelsea.