The exodus of players playing in the European leagues to China have been met with criticisms that money rather than career considerations are the motivation behind such moves.
Big names like Axel Witsel, Oscar, Ramirez and Carlos Tevez, who become the highest paid footballer in the world following his move to China this January have recently moved to the far east in big money deals.
Bayern Munich and Netherlands star Arjen Robben however criticized such move, saying a transfer to China is basically acknowledging one’s career is over.
“I do not understand players going to China at the age of 27 or 28. Those guys are at the peak of their career. That is a waste really. You only get one career. I sort of understand players who are already in their 30s,” the former Chelsea and Real Madrid player told Radio 538.
“A transfer to China would be something else entirely. That is basically acknowledging your career is over. I want to keep playing at the highest level as long as possible.
“It is all about a certain madness that is ongoing in China right now. They are offering some crazy figures. I also got some offers. The money on show is so crazy that you at least have to consider it.”
Super Eagles striker Odion Jude Ighalo is the latest in the increasing list of Nigerian players to have dump the European leagues for the lucrative Chinese Super League.
With the completion of his medical, Ighalo is now a confirmed player of Chinese side, Changchun Yatai, in a deal reportedly worth £20m.
But Ighalo’s transfer may be overshadowed by the fact that he does not have the same goodwill that trailed Mikel’s move to China by Super Eagles coach Gernoit Rohr. The Franco-German tactician had warned the now-former Watford forward not to head for the far East because such would dim his chances to play for Eagles.
According to Rohr, the Chinese league does not offer the same kind of top opposition that Ighalo will get playing in the Premier League.
Veteran sports journalist, Qasim Elegbede however disagrees with Rohr. He said in an interview with Vanguard:
“That is a generalised statement that a person like Rohr should not make. The example of Patrick Mboma is apt here. When he came to Nigeria to help Cameroon win the Africa Cup of Nations in 2000, he was playing in the Japanese League, which at that time was nowhere near a top league.
“It is not wise for Rohr to say that whoever plays in China is not fit to play for the Super Eagles. I believe that if Rohr sees a good Nigeria talent in the Chinese League that he would not shut him out of the national team.
“Truth of the matter is that the Chinese Super League offers the best competition for our players to become better in their trade. What is the use of staying on the bench of a team in Europe, wasting away, when you can play alongside top stars like Oscar, Lavezzi, Gervinho and Kalcuta’’, added Elegbede.
Continuing, he said, “the league in China has the capacity of improving our players performance because there are two World Cup winning coaches in the Chinese Super League and these two, Marcelo Lippi and Felipe Scolari, are coaches of high reputation, who our players will now have the chance to play against or even for, as the case may be.”
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