Chinese soccer’s rising riches yet to bode well for the game
in the Chinese Super League, the country’s top soccer league, have witnessed big changes in their major shareholders as well as squads after this season. The Brazilian midfielder Oscar, a former Chelsea player, is set to join Shanghai SIPG in January on an agreed deal of around $64 million. Southern Metropolis Daily commented on Thursday:
Chinese soccer clubs hit the headlines on a regular basis because they continue to attract some of the world’s top soccer players and astronomical investments. Beijing Guoan recently sold 64 percent of its shares to a local high-end property developer at about 3.55 billion yuan ($500 million), driving its market value to a record 5.55 billion yuan.
Big signings keep coming, too. After Oscar, Carlos Tevez, the Argentine international who is currently playing for Boca Juniors in Buenos Aires, will reportedly become the highest-paid player in the world after joining Shanghai Shenhua. Reports said the 32-year-old striker could sign a two-year contract on $762,000 a week.
Such bewildering deals, however, are no longer rare in the Chinese football league since Guangzhou Evergrande made its debut in 2011. Inspired by its sweeping success in both domestic and international tournaments, largely thanks to its extravagant signings of players from foreign leagues, many Chinese clubs have begun to
look to Europe, arguably the most popular destination for top players from across the world.
Their search has now gone beyond players used to sitting on the bench and fading stars at leading European clubs. Brazilian striker Hulk signed by Shanghai SIPG is among the first-choice players of the Brazilian national team so is his new teammate Oscar. Even some top European clubs are wary of their cash-wielding Chinese counterparts in case they poach players from them.
In stark contrast, China’s national football team has gained very little from the money swilling around the Super League. What is more worrying is that some young Chinese players now with overseas clubs might be lured back by the money. Yet it would be better for them and Chinese football if they continue to play in Europe, where they can develop their talent.
A functioning youth training system is the key to the long-term development of all football clubs. What is happening in the country bodes ill for the future of Chinese soccer.