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China Super League impacts European football

Conte says Chinese Super League is a danger to all teams

Premier League titan clubs Arsenal, Liverpool, and Manchester City do not intend not enter the upcoming January transfer market unless a unique opportunity arises, or like Chelsea, they lose a key member of their squad. However going into the January transfer window, all European soccer clubs will have to tackle a wealthy new player in the international transfer market - China. After losing one of his top footballers to the Chinese Super League, Chelsea manager Antonio Conte says the CSL is a danger to all teams. Although Chinese pro-football is trying to hire top players away from Europe’s giant clubs, Conte believes the Premier League is ‘the best in the world to play for despite the newfound power from China”.

Conte remarked that the powerful money-flushed Chinese Super League (CSL) is a danger to clubs across Europe’s titan elite leagues, as the Chelsea manager redoes his side after the recent hiring away of twenty-five-year-old Chelsea star midfielder Oscar on a £60m move to Chinese Super League club Shanghai SIPG. Brazil international Oscar has played his last game for the Premier League leaders this season, as Chelsea is on the road to equal a club record 11 successive wins at Crystal Palace on Saturday. Oscar, who probably has his best football years ahead of him, signed a contract worth £350,000 a week with André Villas-Boas’s CSL side. Oscar will become Chelsea’s biggest ever sale, eclipsing the money Paris Saint Germain paid for David Luiz in 2014, as Chinese clubs show their clout in the January transfer window. Shanghai Shenhua’s also recently signed former Juventus and Chelsea superstar Carlos Tevez, from Boca Juniors. In the past Chinese clubs have targeted big-name players, especially strikers, towards the end of their careers. Currently the CSL is going after younger players with amazing salary offers.

There is concern by other giant clubs of a possible drain of top talent from the Premier League for the love of riches offered by east Asia. Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal side have been alerted that Hebei China Fortune, coached by Manuel Pellegrini, is prepared to offer their top goal scorer Alexis Sánchez £400,000 a week to turn down a new contract at the Emirates Stadium. Premier League clubs cannot compete with such sums of money. Chelsea sold Ramires to Jiangsu Suning in January 2016 in a deal worth in excess of £20m. Conte did not want to lose Oscar, but the money from the lucrative transfer gives Chelsea more venture capital to buy new talent as they target two new players with the £60 million from Oscar sale. Conte plans to use the £60 million Chelsea banked from selling Oscar to Chinese club Shanghai SIPG to add at least two new players to his Premier League title-chasing squad in January. Chelsea are currently in first place on top of the Premier League Table going into Round 18. Chelsea head into Christmas six points clear at the top of the table as Conte is looking for a defender and a midfielder to give his squad a boost in the New Year.

Top of EPL Table Chelsea was reportedly hoping to hire Leonardo Bonucci, a superstar Italian footballer who plays as a defender for Serie A top of the table club Juventus and the Italian national team. Leo Bonucci’s decision to sign a contract extension has left Chelsea looking at alternative defensive weapons including Antonio Rudiger, Simon Kjaer, Michael Keane, and Nicklas Sule. Conte went on a scouting mission to watch Monaco play Tottenham Hotspur to watch full-back Djibril Sidibe and midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko. However Monaco’s Champions League involvement in the Last 16 knockout stage will make securing either player in January difficult. Conte has also expressed interest in luring twenty-eight-year-old Roma midfielder Radja Nainggolan to Stamford Bridge.

Diego Costa is the Premier League's top scorer with 13 goals. Top Chelsea goal-scorer Spain International Costa got a Christmas bonus of an extra day off by Conte while Chelsea are hoping to extend his Stamford Bridge deal in a new contract worth £200,000-a-week starting in the New Year. Conte rewarded his players for their 11-game winning streak with three days off after their Crystal Palace game and the freedom to fly anywhere in the world ahead of Chelsea’s Christmas schedule. Costa is on holiday in Brazil and was granted a fourth day off to have more time with family and friends before flying back to London. Costa, the EPL top scorer with 13 goals to date, is banned for Chelsea’s Boxing Day clash against Bournemouth. Summer signing Michy Batshuayi or popular Eden Hazard may replace Costa. Hazard stayed in England during Chelsea’s three-day break to receive treatment for injury and missed the victory over Sunderland but returned for the win against Palace.

Conte was asked by the media about his reaction to losing Oscar to China.

“The Chinese market is a danger for all,” said Conte. “Not only for Chelsea, but all the teams in the world. But I think we must concentrate on our work, not think that in China there is a lot of money and they can arrive to take the players there. Oscar is a really good player. I was very proud to have him in my squad and to have him as my player. I’m proud of his attitude, his commitment and his behavior, which have been fantastic, and I have great respect for every decision made by a single player. But if you ask me: ‘Are you sorry?’ then yes, I am sorry to see him leave because a really good player, and a really good man, is leaving the club. I must be honest about this. But also I understand his decision.”

Conte was asked what he would do if approached by a Chinese club offering lucrative terms to become a manager in the CSL. “For sure, you might think about it for one second, or 10 seconds but it’s very difficult not to think about it at all,” said Conte. “Especially if the offer is amazing. And, for sure, this market is an incredible market. It’s a great opportunity for all: for the coaches, also, not only for the players, because they are offering a lot of money. For this reason, I can understand if some players say yes. Sometimes it’s very difficult to face this situation. But I think, also, that we are in the best league. Now, to arrive in the Premier League is a great opportunity for players and for coaches, to fight for the title against fantastic players and coaches. England is the best league in the world if you have ambition to test yourself against the other teams with this reality. To play in this league is a great opportunity, and an honor. It’s the best league in the world to play.”

Oscar previously told his Chesea team-mates he will be leaving when the transfer window opens in January. The funds from Oscar’s transfer provides the management more leeway in the mid-season market. Chelsea will look to replace the Brazilian. “I talked to the board and explained my thoughts,” said Conte. “When there are incredible situations, it’s very difficult to manage this. Very difficult. And every player must decide his own future. But my style is to take always the decision together with the club, and to understand also some strange situations, some massive offers. Sometimes it’s important also to be ‘linked’ with the club to take the best decision, to understand sometimes if the situation can penalize you. But you have to take the best decision for the club. There are situations that are amazing, and it’s very difficult to try and solve the situation in the best way.” Investments on new soccer stars by teams in China's domestic Super League (CSL) is on the rise, with top football players being offered shocking amounts to leave European football clubs and move to the East. “China's "commitment to football has triggered investment of c.£200 million in playing talent by Chinese Super League Clubs in the 2016 winter transfer window." This is more than any other country reports Deloitte's Annual Review of Football Finance.

Shanghai SIPG signed Brazilian soccer player Givanildo Vieira de Sousa known as Hulk for $61 million in June. The “sky is the limit” salaries are a key attraction. Currently four of the world's top 10 highest paid soccer players are from Chinese clubs. Hulk earns £16.5 million per year, making him one of the world's highest paid soccer players trailing Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. Only five foreign players are allowed per team in the CSL. Chinese fans prefer domestic talent, but talent makes teams stronger, so it's a price worth paying to see success while higher quality players spur on motivated teammates to learn from them technically. Strikers are a top target since they are glamorous and they can quickly make a difference. It is feared that the Chinese League’s buying of top talent could negatively impact soccer's influential Europe-based leagues.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said that the Premier League should be worried "because China looks to have the financial power to move a whole league of Europe to China." However big salaries are not the only thing that matters to top football talent who value the attainment of historic trophies in the EPL and La Liga. Meanwhile, Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho remarked that he is enjoying his spell at United and has no plans to move to China. “I have no interest in China, I want to extend my Manchester United contract,” says Portuguese Mourinho who said he would jump at the chance to extend his three year contract at Manchester United. Mourinho has an option to extend his £12 million-a-year contract by another year.

“They know that I love it at every level, they know I love my job at Manchester United, and I know that if one day they bring a new contract I sign it. I will sign it because I love it,” said Mourinho. “China money is attractive for everyone but I love more my football at the highest level. I’m too young - 53 - have too many years of football to go to a place like China, I want to stay in the most difficult place to win.” Next Chelsea host Bournemouth in a not-to-be-missed Premier League Boxing Day match on December 26 at Stamford Bridge in London. On New Year’s Eve Chelsea host Stoke City for a fun-filled way to spend the evening. Then On January 4, 2017 Chelsea travel to White Hart Lane to start the New Year with an exciting clash with Tottenham Hotspur. Buy Chelsea tickets and other football tickets for all fixtures now online at 1st4FootballTickets.com!

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