Are you a talented footballer? Does the allure of the big European Leagues and the Champions League bore you? Are you tired of being challenged and having to earn your spot? Well, come to China where you can avoid all those things and be richer than you could ever dream…
This week, Axel Witsel became the latest in a long line of talented footballers to make the switch east, rejecting a chance to move to Italian giants Juventus, instead opting for the emerging footballing superpower that is China
He will follow in the footsteps of the likes of Carlos Tevez, Oscar, Hulk, Ezequiel Lavezzi, Jackson Martinez and Alex Teixeira in moving to Asia after being offered titanic amounts of money.
How much you ask? Buckle in and swallow that last sip of tea before you read on.
Carlos Tevez will reportedly be earning as much as £615 000 per week at Shanghai Shenua. Yes, you read that right, SIX HUNDRED and FIFTEEN grand every seven days. Shanghai SIPG shelled out £60 million for Chelsea want-a-way Oscar, as well as £46 million for Brazilian striker Hulk while the above mentioned Witsel. The numbers sound more like figures from small emerging economies rather than the price of footballers.
What is becoming more and more worrying is the increasing numbers of players in their prime choosing to head to China. No one can blame Carlos Tevez for seeking big money and the end of a sparkling career having proved himself at the highest level on countless occasions.
However, Witsel, 27, has been plying his trade in Russia of late and had not exactly been subtle when speaking of his desire to play for a European powerhouse capable of winning the Champions League. Now, however, when presented with an offer by Juventus (said European powerhouse), worth £3.8 million per year, the Belgian opted instead for China, where he will be earning four times that figure. Has Witsel tossed aside his dreams in the pursuit of cold, hard cash?
Oscar sighted a need for “game time” as his reason for moving to China, although I would find it hard to believe that there was not a top-level side in Europe capable of giving the Brazilian a spot in their starting 11. One would be forgiven for thinking that the £400 000 plus per week may, in fact, be his reason. We see you, Oscar.
As hard as they try to distract us from the money, with terms like “game time”, it’s hard to see past the dollar signs in their eyes as they jet off east, potentially kissing their international careers good-bye. When you consider what they were earning before anyway, the want of money becomes all the more obvious.
These are not washed up footballers in the twilight of their career in search of an extension to their playing days, but talented internationals in their prime, going to play their best years in a mildly competitive league at best. It is difficult to make any sense of it.
Now, with reports of otherworldly bids for the likes of Christiano Ronaldo and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyeng surfacing, I am sure we can expect to be shaking our heads even more as a few more stars ship themselves off east in search of greener (golden) pastures.