Football: China's emergence will see £100m transfer barrier broken, says Wenger

Arsene Wenger said that Europe clubs should be concerned about China's economic power.
Arsene Wenger said that Europe clubs should be concerned about China's economic power.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (REUTERS) - European clubs should be worried by Chinese football's display of economic might in the January transfer window, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said on Friday.

The Chinese Super League out-spent Europe's elite with a series of high-profile signings that could still increase before the local transfer window closes on Feb 26.

Jiangsu Suning smashed the league's transfer record for a third time in 10 days by signing Liverpool target Alex Teixeira from Shakhtar Donetsk for €50 million (S$78 million) on Friday.

Asked at a news conference ahead of Sunday's trip to Bournemouth if Premier League clubs should be concerned by China's willingness to compete for top players, Wenger was emphatic.

"Yes, of course," he said. "Because China looks to have the financial power to move the whole league of Europe to China. And we... know that is just a consequence of economical power and they have that."

The Teixeira deal follows Guangzhou Evergrande's capture of Colombian striker Jackson Martinez from Atletico Madrid for €42 million and Jiangsu's signing of Brazil midfielder Ramires from Chelsea for a reported £25 million.

Wenger questioned whether China would sustain high levels of investment in football and predicted even bigger transfers next season.

"I don't know how deep the desire in China is, but if it's a very strong political desire, we should worry," he said. "In the summer, we will see transfer prices move up again. I am sure that soon the 100 million target will be easy to reach."

The manager also said that, despite a bumper television deal providing major funds next season, clubs would find it difficult to lower ticket prices, a long-standing demand from fans.

"What will happen is that the prices of players will go up and (clubs) will need the supplement of money coming in to buy new players," Wenger added. "So I believe that the pressure on spending the money will become bigger and you cannot necessarily distribute the money to all the people."

Veteran midfielder Tomas Rosicky could have played his last game for the club against Burnley in the FA Cup on Saturday, with Wenger confirming that the 35-year-old was out for up to three months after partially rupturing a tendon in his thigh.

The cup game was Rosicky's only appearance of the campaign to date and the Czech Republic international's contract expires at the end of the season, his 10th at the club.