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Is China The New Soccer Power?

Bob Koep

Suddenly, there is serious action on the Chinese soccer market.

Unbelievable amounts of money are spent to attract name players to stock up teams of the Chinese Super League and there doesn’t seem to be any end to it. Teams are spending 40, 60 and 80 million in transfer fees and then shell out big money in salaries.

For the past few years the odd big name star had been playing in China but much of that news rarely made it to the Western press.

But in the past few weeks alone six big name stars have signed. First there was Enzequil lavezzi, an Argentinean who used to toil for Paris St Germain. Lavezzi has already a season behind him with Hebei China Fortune, but his name is in the news now as he was listed as the highest paid player in the world. Yes, that is right. His base salary is said to be somewhere around $ 40 million ( $770,000 a week) and that is more than the stipend Christiano Ronaldo receives.

Of course Ronaldo makes many many million more with endorsements.

But his base soccer salary is said to be less than that of Lavezzi.

But the flood gates opened just recently when 5 more Western stars decided to move to where the money is.

Oscar, the Brazilian striker, formerly with Chelsea, took a $ 25 million a year offer from Shaghai IPG and so did Portuguese legend Ricardo Carvalho who will toil for the same club at a reported $ 20 million. At 38 he could not find major league employment in the West.

John Obi Mickel a Nigerian, also formerly with Chelsea, has just signed for a  reported $20 million a year. But here comes Argentinean Carlo Tevez who joins Shaghai Shenshua for, yes, $40 million a year.  Tevez, a onetime Manchester United player lately played with Boca Juniors of Argentina.

That leaves Belgian international Axel Witzel with a meagre $20 million a year moving from Russian club St Petersburg to Tianjin of the Super League. Where will it all end? Nobody knows. But this kind of money is bound to attract more and more stars playing in Europe and, who knows, maybe Messi is next.

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