Gone soon could be the days where Europe was the homeland of all things football. The FIFA Player of the Year award may no longer be decided in just that continent, with worldwide fans able to embrace the game much closer to home. But, perhaps it won't be snatched by the Americas as once thought - even if South poses a worldwide threat on the international landscape, and North is growing to "soccer" - instead the Chinese Super League are loosening the purse strings.
And that is probably the most effective way to go about things. Money. Every pound, euro, dollar - or Renminbi. It speaks to the players in the most directive and appealing language possible, and its worked so far. A lot of these players aren't the kind to just finish their career out with a sizeable paycheck - instead, they've let up on big time exposure at Premier League clubs or other European top flights to spend a bulk of their career in East Asia.
According to transfermarkt, the recent coup of Oscar from Chelsea is the biggest deal to fall so far at £51 million. He'll take home around £21 million per year, a mind-boggling salary. Even if he was out of the picture at Conte's set up at Stamford Bridge, as a Brazilian star he holds some pretty big value. They've followed that South American surge with Hulk (£47 million), Alex Teixeira (£42.5 million) and Jackson Martinez (£36 million) among a host of other talents. For all we know, this could just be the start. They're working quickly, and off to an alarming rate - expect more players to follow in their footsteps: the math and the money simply makes it worth it.
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For constant offers to keep making mainstream news and catching the attention of all these big clubs says it all. The footballing world is beginning to take the Chinese seriously - that's music to the ears of all those vultures circling and waiting to make their move. It seems like phase I of this project is going for the South Americans, and bursting through their market. If their own continent doesn't do, why settle for Europe, when there's China?
The seeds were planted at a metaphorically-compatible venue just a couple months removed from the World Cup of 2014. Argentina and Brazil went toe-to-toe at the stunning "Bird's Nest" - the Beijing National Stadium. Neymar, Messi and the other big stars were all in attendance in the Superclásico de las Américas competition: playing out of it s normal territory on a rare occasion, with China putting up enough appeal to draw that match in.
Superpower. A word that resonates around the scene after the Chinese government set out their intentions. Ultimately, contending for the World Cup - and bringing it on to their soil - is the goal, and by setting out a spectacular lineup in the Super League, they may just take on this sport head on. Add that to the news that the World Cup will soon be expanded to 48 teams and voila, they are one step closer.
If the previous signings are anything to go by though, proportionally, stepping up a tier in player quality may just cost a bomb. So perhaps the intense growth period leaving the cross-ocean competition on watch may just slow down a little. Nonetheless, there's a lot riding on this project. China have pumped in mind-boggling amounts of cash, and they are going to take the financial competition right through the roof.
It appears to be paying off at the moment though. A report from Yutang Sports discovered that in 2015, football was the most viewed sport on China's most popular sports channel CCTV5, ousting basketball coverage which also has historically been a big draw. Premier League broadcasting in China has been received well too, which makes it easy to understand why the Chinese Super League are trying to pick out some from the pack, or beating the English top flight to it as was the case with Alex Teixeira.
|Image: Thinking Chinese|