Greed driving stars' exodus to China: Cahill

SYDNEY • Greed is behind the proliferation of big stars heading to football's cashed-up Chinese Super League and it will not help the country's national team, China-based Australian star Tim Cahill has said.

The Chinese record transfer fee has been smashed four times in the current transfer window, with Brazilian midfielder Alex Teixeira the third big signing in just over a week after Jiangsu Suning paid €50 million (S$78 million) to sign him from Shakhtar Donetsk.

The move came just three days after Guangzhou Evergrande snapped up Atletico Madrid's Jackson Martinez for €42 million, and nine days after Jiangsu's €28 million purchase of Ramires from Chelsea.

Former Everton star Cahill, who now plays for Shanghai Shenhua, said the ambition within Chinese football knew no bounds.

"When I first went to China I knew the vision, I knew what was behind it and I knew what they wanted to do. To see where it's come to now and where we're at, it's pretty crazy," he told Australia's Fox Sports.

"They've got the power and, when they want something, they get it and when they don't want something they get rid of it. It's pretty much like a revolving door, you see a lot of players coming in and a lot of players going.

"It's crazy to see but this is only going to get worse. This is going to be massive, soon they'll break the A$100 million (S$98.4 million) mark easily."

While money is evidently no object for cashed-up Chinese clubs, Cahill suggested that it had become too much of a priority for the stars poached from some of Europe's best clubs.

"The choices that players are making are not about football like it was in my day, they're purely about personal gains and it depends what you want as an individual," he said.

"Is it going to help players? No.

"Is it going to be big for the country? Yes.

"You're turning down Liverpool, you're leaving Chelsea," he added, referring to Teixeira and Ramires. "Players have got different ideas and you have to be able to live in China as well. I live in Shanghai, it's a big city. Some of the other areas, it's a bit tough and we'll see how long they last."

Cahill added that the ambition of the Chinese Super League is doing little to help home-grown talent.

"With this investment in players, there's a Catch-22. Does it help the Chinese? To a certain extent, no," he said.

"The most difficult area for the Chinese national team is attacking, they can't score goals. Everything else, they're technically gifted, they're great.

"But when you sign players like this (Teixeira, Martinez, Ramires) everything is up to us. If we don't deliver, it doesn't happen."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 10, 2016, with the headline 'Greed driving stars' exodus to China: Cahill'. Print Edition | Subscribe