On February 26th, Yannick Carrasco and Nicolás Gaitán left Atletico Madrid to go to Dalian Yifang, a club in the Chinese Super League. Carrasco left for a cost of $53 million and Gaitán for $32 million. China has been buying several more players from international leagues, but this is the latest incident. Are they taking over football with their money?
The most popular players that have moved to China to play football are Didier Drogba, Demba Ba Lavezzi, Oscar, Carlos Tevez, Hulk and Paulinho. The most expensive player is Tevez who was bought for $103 million. Following him is Oscar for $64 million.
The question is why did such great players move to China? China is known for their fast growing economy. China is a very populous country and have a lot of money. Their president wants to create a domestic sports complex worth $850 billion. The Chinese are using their money to raise youngsters who will hopefully grow up to be stars. But they are also spending massive amount of money on professional football players.
The Belgian Carrasco and Argentinian Gaitán did not get as much playing time as they wished to back at Atletico Madrid. They spent most of their last months warming the bench. Gaitán has only been in the starting lineup two games this season. Had they stayed, they would barely have played at all.
Carrasco joined Atletico Madrid in 2015 and had been a key player in the team. He scored a crucial goal in the 2016 Champions League final against Real Madrid. Real Madrid won the game by penalties. This season he started only 8 league matches and began on the bench 9 times. By moving to China, both players will be praised by Chinese football fans and have lots of playing time.
With a team of a majority of unknown Chinese players, Carrasco and Gaitan will stand out. On the 3rd of March, Dalian Yifang played their first game with their new superstars. They played against Shanghai SIPG who are known for having the Brazilians Oscar and Hulk. Dalian Yifang had the worst start possible after conceding a goal 30 seconds after the first whistle. After that, Shanghai showed no mercy and crushed their opponent by a whopping 8-0. Oscar and Chinese superstar, Wu Lei, were very satisfied with the games as they both scored hat-tricks.
Some people have been talking about whether Carrasco and Gaitán will play in the 2018 World Cup after the decrease in opposition they will get in the Chinese Super League (CSL) compared to La Liga. The World Cup is the most important tournament of all and managers only want the players that are in their best form. La Liga is the football league with the world’s best players and it’s very different from the CSL.
Yet the Chinese continue to steal football stars from international leagues. Will the CSL eventually become a top class league like La Liga or the Premier League? Will Carrasco and Gaitán have a chance to play in the World Cup, or are their careers sealed and have reached their final destination?