Lavezzi drawn by prospects, money to CSL

Ezequiel Lavezzi vying with Toulouse's Uros Spajic in their French League Cup match in January. The Argentinian spurned offers from Inter, Chelsea and United to move to Chinese side Hebei Fortune.
Ezequiel Lavezzi vying with Toulouse's Uros Spajic in their French League Cup match in January. The Argentinian spurned offers from Inter, Chelsea and United to move to Chinese side Hebei Fortune.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

PARIS • Former Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) forward Ezequiel Lavezzi told French TV station Canal Plus that he turned down the chance to play for Inter Milan, Chelsea and Manchester United before moving to the Chinese Super League's (CSL) Hebei Fortune.

"I could have signed for Inter, Chelsea or Manchester United," said the 30-year-old Argentinian international. "But I made the decision to go to China. It's an important choice for my career. I'm sure I'll face many challenges here."

His transfer to the CSL side was announced almost two weeks ago, with Hebei understood to have paid a transfer fee of around €4.5 million (S$6.9 million) for a potential free agent at the end of the French Ligue One season.

The Argentina forward admitted that he was partially drawn by the lucrative salary as he departed PSG for Hebei with a contract reportedly worth €15 million per season.

"I like the project to develop this club. It was that which convinced me to come to Hebei, as well as the financial aspect," said Lavezzi. "I'm also fascinated by Chinese culture, so to come and play here is definitely an interesting challenge."

The former Napoli forward also realised that his international career has almost certainly been brought to an end by leaving a major club competition, but feels he has made the correct decision.

"Yes, it's likely that experience is over," said Lavezzi, who has 48 caps for his country.

"But I've already made the decision to come here and I want to do my best for my new club."

He will play alongside the likes of former Arsenal and Roma striker Gervinho, former Chelsea winger Gael Kakuta and Cameroon midfielder Stephane Mbia at Hebei.

Lavezzi joins a handful of high-profile players who made similar moves in the past two months to China, namely Jackson Martinez (Guangzhou Evergrande), Ramires and Alex Teixeira (Jiangsu Suning).

Teixeira opened the scoring for Jiangsu yesterday, as the 10-man Chinese outfit defeated South Korean side Jeonbuk FC 3-2 in their Asian Champions League Group E match yesterday. Ramires was sent off in the dying stages.

XINHUA

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 02, 2016, with the headline 'Lavezzi drawn by prospects, money to CSL'. Print Edition | Subscribe