Sports

Can China’s high price for star footballers last?

These days China, the most populous nation in the universe and as well as the second economic power in the world, is also the most lucrative destination for footballers.
In a desperate attempt to develop the game of soccer in the huge country, football teams have been offering established stars in Europe outrageous fees to attract them.  China in the last few years has earned the reputation as paying players the highest in the world with Carlos Teveroz of Argentina with the tag of being the highest paid footballer in the world with about six hundred a thirty thousand pounds (£630,000) a week!
Nigeria’s national team captain, Mikel Obi, recently transferred his services to China where his current weekly wage of £140,000 doubles what he was earning in high-flying Chelsea of England.  But whether he would have left Chelsea for China if he was not completely – and inexplicably – frozen out of Chelsea first team by new manager, Conte, is another matter.
For some years now China has become a ready rehabilitation ground for experienced footballers from European leagues at the twilight of their career. In most cases, these players had made their names in their European clubs and become fringe players but with their names, still good for the fledgling Chinese game.
With so much money in China, some footballers angling to have a piece of the cake have been blackmailing their teams with the threat of moving to China.  The latest instance was of Chelsea who fell out with his manager, Conte, on his reported threat to move to China.  But Conte, a no-nonsense manager, called his bluff and did not feature him in his last away match with champions Leicester, which Chelsea triumphed 3 – 0.
But the result of China’s current policy of enticing  quality players unto their league may not manifest soon but will surely do some time.
At present, China’s national team is ranked lowly 82nd by FIFA and unlikely to qualify for Russia 2018.
Chinese leader, President Xi Jinping is optimistic that his country would one day host and win the World Cup.
This president’s hope has galvanized Chinese football league to spend outrageously to attract established football stars and coaches to develop the game there although the president has warned the football authorities against “irrational investment”.  This means that the expensive prices paid for stars from European leagues many not be sustained, may not continue for too long.
But before then, some footballers including many from Africa would have turned to multi-billionaires not multi-millionaires, in their local currencies and thanks to Chinese-induced inflation in the price of player in the international market.
Not to be forgotten that the Chinese are Champion athletes in other sports.  And with their determination to be champions in football too, it might not take long before they achieve it, with  determination there in abundance.

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