Russia lags behind
move that did not end well for the pair amid reports they were not paid the salaries promised to them.
However, most Super League clubs can flex real financial muscle.
The Asian nation’s football-fanatic president Xi Jinping is behind the latest turnaround. Xi is reportedly fed up with the country’s failure to develop as a footballing nation.
China last qualified for a World Cup in 2002, in South Korea and Japan, where they were knocked out in the first round without a point or a goal scored.
Xi wants change and so change is happening.
The Chinese League used to be obscure and received little attention worldwide. It attracted nobodies, but the times are rapidly a-changing.
Australian star Tim Cahill, who joined Shanghai Greenland Shenhua last year, summed it up recently when he said: “When they [the Chinese] want something, they get it, and when they don’t want something, they get rid of it.”
Money talks, and there is a new kid on the block when it comes to splashing cash – China is the place to go if you can strike a few goals and want to strike it rich too. One can only wonder if South African stars will look to get in on the act, too. Why not?
What will be most interesting, though, is seeing if all this money translates into good football.
Russia’s football is not yet at a level that matches the country’s political and economic might, although the Russian Premier League consistently ranks among the top 10 in Europe.
The 2018 Fifa World Cup host has not reached the on-field levels they have been hoping for, despite attracting some big-name players and coaches in the form of Brazilian star striker Hulk, Nigerian forward Ahmed Musa and top tacticians Guus Hiddink and Fabio Capello.
President Vladimir Putin wants Russia to assume a greater role in the world of football. But they have a lot of ground to cover before the 2018 global event if they are to be taken seriously.