Keeping it Real


Cristiano Ronaldo is said to have been the subject of a blockbuster bid from an undisclosed team from the Chinese Super League that offered Real Madrid €300 million ($315 million) for the Portuguese striker. He would have earned €100 million per season if club and player had accepted the deal.

The flow of foreign talent to China showed no sign of abating in December after Chelsea sold Oscar to Shanghai SIPG for £60 million ($73.8 million), and Shanghai Shenhua paid £72 million to Boca Juniors for Carlos Tevez, reports the Guardian (with Boca having to refund 60% if Tevez leaves within a year). Both players will be on stratospheric wages, with Argentine media reporting that Tevez will earn $78.4 million over two years – about 20 times his previous salary.

Ronaldo doesn’t seem tempted by the millions on offer. “China is a new market which could buy some players. But for Cristiano it’s impossible… Money is not everything in life,” his agent Jorge Mendes reassured. Mendes is not short of a buck himself, mind you, as the dealmaker extraordinaire for a number of the world’s best players.

Even the referees want to get their piece of the Chinese pie, it seems, after Mark Clattenberg of the English Premier League was asked if he would try his luck if he got the chance. “There is no offer on the table but if they made an offer it would be under consideration,” was the hopeful response.

Back in China the riches being lavished on international players are now generating media alarm. “The sum of Rmb4.1 billion has been invested by the 16 Chinese Super League clubs in 2016 and more than 80% has been used to pay foreign coaches and players,” the People’s Daily complained. “Many clubs’ budgets on foreign players are over two-thirds of their entire expenses. In the meantime, the youth system and infrastructure is not receiving enough funding.”

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