How Chinese Super League affects European football?

With the Chinese Super League announcing its intention to become one of world's best leagues by signing some of World's coveted talents, Europe now faces stiff competition for football stars -- especially from South America and Asia.

oscar

Oscar's 60 million pound move to China could be the beginning of the end of Europe's tag as a footballer's dream destination.   -  AP

Oscar's move to Shanghai SIPG jersey won’t go down in history as one of the most sensational transfers. For, it neither had a manager kicking the player out nor did it involve an astronomical sum at the end of a bidding war.





Yet the Brazilian playmaker's 52 million pound move to China could be the beginning of the end of Europe's tag as a footballer's dream destination. With the Chinese Super League announcing its intention to become one of world's best leagues by signing some of World's coveted talents, Europe now faces stiff competition for football stars -- especially from South America and Asia.

The signs were already there. Last season, the Asian football markets saw records being shattered with the arrivals of Jackson Martinez (Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao), Ezequiel Lavezzi (Hebei China Fortune), Ramires (Jiangsu Suning) and Alex Teixeira (Jiangsu Suning). These players were in the peak of their careers unlike Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka who took the Asian route for one last fat pay cheque before they hang up their boots. Europe didn't mind the Drogbas and Anelkas moving because it was helping them clear out players on the decline without upsetting the fans who don't like it when their heroes aren't offered contract extensions. But Jaingsu secured the services of 25-year-old Teixeira by outbidding Liverpool -- a team with a rich pedigree in Europe. Oscar was, until very recently, a primary target for Serie A champion Juventus.

Suddenly the Chinese are taking away Europe's primary targets. China's financial power, aided by President Xi Jingping's 50-point plan for football domination, in due course, will end the traditional cycle of football economy.

There are four types of clubs:

1. The nursery: Clubs such as Spain's Athletic Bilbao and England's Southampton identify talented players at a very young age and help them become top-class footballers. Their success lies on a continuous supply of young, quality footballers and big clubs buying them for a huge sum.

2. The scouts: Some clubs may not have a bright academy but they make up for it by scouting talent across the world. They take the gamble with young players. For the players, the clubs are guaranteed spotlights -- if they perform well, the big guns will come looking. For the clubs, if the gamble pays off, it’s a lot of profit.

3. Title chasers: The demands of a cup every single season means most clubs like to buy proven talent. They tend to buy from clubs in established leagues rather than taking a risk of signing them young.

4. The final stage: The Major League Soccer (MLS) and the Indian Super League (ISL) have clubs that offer top-players one last fat pay cheque before they retire. For the players, the money is huge and the football isn't too demanding. The clubs, in turn, make the most of the players' marketability through jersey and ticket sales.

The Chinese clubs, much to the unhappiness of Europe, have entered the 'title-chasers' category rather 'final stage'. Suddenly, ‘the nursery’ and ‘the scouts’ have an alternative option to sell their players, which will give them leverage while negotiating. Liverpool desperately wanted Teixeira, but Shakhtar Donetsk, would not budge until the Reds matched the Chinese bid. Moreover, the money going into these smaller clubs will allow them to fend off approaches from top clubs.

The EPL, buoyed by a new TV rights deal, is an example of how money can level the playing field. Traditional buyers like Chelsea and Manchester City will struggle to sign a player from Southampton today because of the money the Saints are getting from the deal (which is close to what top clubs from other European clubs make). This hinders top clubs' attempts to buy off competition.

If Chinese Super League continues its trend, and one would assume that will be the case, then the likes of Atletico Madrid, Sevilla, and Borussia Dortmund will have the financial security to say no to approaches from teams in the same league.

That said, the Chinese market is insurance for the big clubs, who are bound by the financial fair play (FFP) regulations. Take the case of Oscar. Chelsea bought the Brazilian from Internacional for his potential. Though he didn't exactly flop, he never rose to the levels that were expected of him and was only a bench-warmer in Antonio Conte's team. It was a gamble that didn't pay off for Chelsea. That is until CSL took him in and handed Chelsea a whopping 40 million profit.

The big clubs now have the safety of not losing money on risky moves which will push them to scout talents rather than rely on other scouting clubs. If Gabriel Jesus turns out to be a flop at Manchester City, it won't worry the City owners too much because CSL would love to get a young player of his quality.

Acquiring players from big clubs is good for China too. Oscar still has the best part of his career ahead of him and is more marketable than a player bought from Shakhtar because of Chelsea's fan base. This will disrupt the functioning of traditional scouting clubs who will have the likes of Real Madrid and Chelsea breathing down their necks.

China is using the same method that saw its rapid rise in industrial sectors -- acquiring foreign talent to improve itself. Atletico Madrid is partly owned by Chinese billionaire Wang Jianlin while Manchester City in 2015 announced a 265 million pound deal with Chinese investors. With President Xi's dream of turning China into a 'soccer powerhouse' very much a priority, rich offers from the oriental east will not be short at least for the immediate future.

Chinese Football League promises to shake up football’s existing financial system and throw open a plethora of opportunities and difficulties to clubs in Europe. Only thing is missing in China's top league today -- the presence of a European football star. In the summer of 2017, this could change, with Wayne Rooney and John Terry being targeted. Will they change the power structure in football forever by moving to China? Only time will tell.

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