The Dominion Post

Chinese clubs have money to burn

- CHRIS BARCLAY

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.’’

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