LONDON: Brazil midfielder Oscar is heading for Chinese football after Shanghai SIPG agreed a £52m deal with Premier League leaders Chelsea.
Oscar has made more than 200 appearances for Chelsea and the deal is a further example of the ambition of the Chinese Super League.
While other motivated non-European football leagues such as Major League Soccer and the Indian Super League also have attempted growth in recent years, the financial and systemic power of the Chinese movement has gained a different kind of traction.
While MLS and the Indian Super League have largely concentrated on acquiring former world-class players at the end of their European contracts – and thus involving no transfer fee – large Chinese Super League clubs have recently been paying exorbitant transfer fees for players at the peak of their footballing powers.
If completed, the Oscar transfer would be the fifth time the Chinese transfer record has been broken in less than a year; with all four previous record purchases hailing from South America and joining China from top European clubs. Oscar would follow the trend.
The substantial financial resource of Chinese Super League clubs has enabled them to tempt top players with big wage offers; with Carlos Tevez and Alexis Sanchez (both South American) being linked with moves in recent days.
With the government having stated their ambition to make China a ‘world football superpower’ by 2050, investment in the game at both grassroots and professional level is indicative of that strong motivation. The Chinese football revolution looks set to continue.