Football in China is on the rise. Clubs from the Chinese Super League are buying some pretty famous names just like cherry picking from a catalogue at a shopping store.
2016 saw some big names flock to China for some HEAVY transfer fees and salaries. Does that mean trouble for European football leagues?
Let’s take a look :
The Chinese Super League wasn’t exactly a league to be reckoned with (perhaps not even now) but the past few years has seen some world famous football superstars migrate to China.
Now, most of you may believe that these superstars, in their final years as a player may leave Europe and go to America to play for MLS (Major League Soccer) or Indian Super League and now China, home of the Chinese Super League.
A few years ago, this claim might have been relatable as we saw Didier Drogba and Nikolas Anelka move to China for big money but the trend seems to have tilted now.
President Xi Jinping of China plans to make his country a football superpower and is sparing no expense to turn the Chinese league into a league of superstars in their prime rather than buying off players in their final years.
And there’s a pattern. You see European clubs like Dortmund, Southampton, etc. who develop young stars and then you see clubs like Real Madrid and Barcelona who tend to buy big names for star power and winning titles. Then comes clubs like LA Galaxy or Shanghai Shenhua wo take up the big names in their final years.
China was in the last category but is pushing to climb a notch up by becoming a power counted among the likes of the clubs who buys talent in its prime to win titles and boost revenue.
We saw players in their prime years like Gervinho, Ezequiel Lavezzi, Jackson Martinez, Alex Texeira and in December itself, Oscar from Chelsea moved to China for a whopping 52 million punds paid as a transfer fee.
This move spells trouble for European football, although in a little far-fetched manner :
You see, Madrid and Barcelona can “buy off” their competition, Bayern Munich have been buying off competition by transferring players from their local rivals Dortmund in the German league but now, theyhave tough contenders with similar deep pockets who can take away their targets.
Selling players in their final playing years was a way to loan off extra baggage but what about now when current superstars are moving? How will the big clubs retain their star reserves when they risk to lose them to China and how do you expect them to continue to buy off comeptition easily?
If the trend continues, the time isn’t far that the Chines Super League may have a huge European star playing in it. Players like Oscar and Jackson Martinez have their best years ahead of them and benchwarming for big clubs wasn’t gonna help them, so an opportunity in China may just help them develop more and even crack a spot in their national teams.
So, the question still remains.
Can China become a football superpower in the near future, amon the likes of Spain’s La Liga and England’s Premier League? We sure would love to find out!
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Views presented in the article are those of the author and not of ED.