Is the Chinese revolution over already?
By Cam Melling
This week has seen the Chinese Super League's two highest profile players leave. Didier Drogba has left for Galatasaray permanently and Nicolas Anelka has joined Juventus on loan. Whether or not the later will return is yet unknown but this does pose the question. Is the Chinese Super League's attempt at becoming a league that is taken seriously on the world stage finished?
Argentine Dario Conca was the first "big" name transfer to the league on the 2nd July 2011. In terms of 'big though only Chinese press seemed to think so along with his team Guangzhou Evergrande, who reportedly pay him more than Lionel Messi earns at Barcelona. All this despite the fact that he has never won a senior international cap!
The news that buckets of endless cash were swirling around China clearly appealed to Nicolas Anelka who six months later joined Shanghai Shenhua, a team that had just finished in 11th place (out of 16) the previous season. But the big signings did not stop there for Shanghai, as they then went on to sign the Frenchman's former Chelsea teammate Didier Drogba. It seemed that the riches of China could not be resisted by anyone. Not even a Champions League winner.
At the time, the future looked bright for the world's most populated country but it was not long until the large wages which had attracted the big names were becoming a burden on the club. It seemed that the lack of pay affected Anelka who was involved in a heated debate with a Shanghai fan after refusing to bow the the travelling supporters.
Now with both ex-Chelsea players out of the country the perception is that league's progression has come to a halt. Maybe the money is not enough to progress the competition. It would seem that for the the first time, football, rather than cash has been the decision maker for Anelka and Drogba. They can take home all the tea in China but it will not cure their thrist for the highly paced, action packed European league experience.
However, all is not lost for the CSL with "superstars" such as Nigerian striker, Yakubu, ex-Dortmund Lucas Barrios and West Ham legend Frederic Kanoute stil plying their trades in Asia. Although how long will it be before they get itchy feet and crave a return to a European destination?
It looks like footballing sense (but not accounting sense) have prevailed in the cases of two footballers which still have a lot to offer on the world stage. The supremcy of European football has never been more clear.
Players are now seeing that money is not enough to keep them there. Its the life style, and level of play, that they cant handle.