The Dominion Post
Chinese clubs have money to burn
THE A-League’s leading scorer also showcased his value as a provider in the Wellington Phoenix’s agonising loss in Brisbane on Monday and then Nathan Burns turned defensive when his future at the club was broached.
As speculation concerning the bornagain Australian international’s move to China continued, Burns was off limits to media after the Roar ended Wellington’s seven-match unbeaten sequence with a 3-2 victory in stoppage time at Suncorp Stadium.
Burns, who earned a recall to the Socceroos on the strength of his exploits since joining the Phoenix this season, has been linked to the cashed-up Shanghai Shenhua, although the move might be jeopardised by Tim Cahill’s announcement yesterday that he was joining the club.
Burns, 26, who was an unused substitute after the quarterfinals of the Asian Cup, bounced back from that disappointment with an impressive outing highlighted by an assist for Roy Krishna’s opener.
Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick praised his key off-season acquisition but was cautious when asked whether the 10-goal striker was likely to see out his twoseason contract.
While Merrick reiterated the reported $2 million approach from Shenhua was inflated, he acknowledged Chinese clubs clearly had the financial resources to lure players from the A-League.
‘‘There’s no doubt teams in China have got lots of money to spend and if they give a sizeable offer – which is nothing like’s been reported in the newspapers – the board will consider it seriously,’’ he said.
Merrick said negotiations had not yet reached that point, saying Shenhua had not made contact with the Phoenix since the Asian Cup got underway.
‘‘I haven’t even looked into it, they haven’t given us a serious offer. All I’ve said to the club is this is what I had to deal with at the Victory. If Nathan goes we’ll manage. It’s all part of the game. Asian clubs have got money now, there’s lots of options in Korea, Japan, China, Thailand and Indonesia as well.’’
The Phoenix have already granted striker Jeremy Brockie an early release to join South Africa’s SuperSport United and Merrick revealed two other players had drawn interest from overseas clubs.
He would not identify the duo but said the approaches underscored the club’s resurgence.
‘‘We’re doing something right for other clubs to be chasing our players, for us to get Nathan back in the Socceroos.’’