I’m really beginning to hate China and no not in that Donald Trump kind of way but in the way that China is really beginning to take talent across the major European soccer leagues. I feel like a broken record going through this so I won’t rehash old talking points but China just picked up two more big names. This month Zenit St. Petersburg and Belgian international Axel Witsel is headed to the Chinese Super League. The 27 year old, approaching his prime, turned down a move to notorious Italian giants Juventus to grab the cash in China. Club Tianjin Quanjin has offered him wages making him one of the Top 10 highest paid players in the world which is just absurd. The mind boggling £600,000 a week wages in no way lines up with the production he brings on the field. He’s a nice player but has a tremendous amount of room to improve and these figures are just staggering.
Longtime Chelsea man John Obi Mikel will also be on his way to China after he’s been put out to pasture in Antonio Conte’s 3-4-3 system. The 29 year old Nigerian signed for Tianjin TEDA on a free transfer from Chelsea but he’ll earn £140,000 per week nearly doubling his wages at Stamford Bridge. I assure you this will not be the last we talk of China and while they’ve taken the likes of Carlos Tevez, Hulk, Oscar and Jackson Martinez we haven’t seen a true mega superstar sign there…yet. Tevez would be the biggest name to date and while Tevez had great success at Manchester United, Manchester City and Juventus he’s been playing back home in Argentina for Boca Juniors the past few seasons. His overall aura has declined as he approaches 32 years old; he’s far from the player he once was. But I think that day is coming when a superstar in their prime bolts for a crazy one million dollar per week figure and when it does the top flight leagues in Europe are going to have a big problem on their hands.
Coming back to silly season for a moment, the newest January transfer rumors has Manchester United offering Atletico Madrid and French striker Antoine Griezmann equal wages to Paul Pogba. Sorry but I’m not going to hold my breath on this one and after the month that Zlatan Ibrahimovic just had, winning Premier League Player of the Month, I can’t see Jose Mourinho asking him to share striking duties with anyone. This rumor is garbage but I guess it’s fun for United fans to dream.
The other report, which I’m going to dismiss 100%, is the desire of Real Madrid and FC Barcelona to attempt to sign Tottenham Hotspur starlet Dele Alli. After the week that Alli had of course these rumors were going to surface. Tottenham will do everything on God’s green earth to retain him and even though we’ve seen them sell their franchise icon before (Gareth Bale) Alli is not on that level, not yet, so he would not command a similar type of price tag. The money would be extremely rich, especially given Alli is only 20 years old, but we don’t see young English players on Barcelona or Real Madrid very often. I can only name a handful: David Beckham, Michael Owen, Jonathan Woodgate and Steve McManaman all played for Real. Which the most recent being Beckham back in 2007, a decade ago.
In moves that actually did happen, we saw a few that are good signings but none that will alter the balance of power in their respective leagues:
Manchester United made their first move of the winter transfer window and I’m sure not their last. A year after acquiring Morgan Schneiderlin from Southampton they’ve sold him to Everton for £24 million. Over the season and a half Schneiderlin appeared in 32 matches scoring one lone goal. He was a hot commodity leaving Southampton (during their fire sale) but never fit in during Manchester United’s transition period. He wasn’t part of Mourinho’s system and now he’s moving on to help Everton improve on their 7th place position in the standings
The Parisians bolstered their midfield signing 23 year old Julian Draxler from VFL Wolfsburg. The German international was part of the 2014 World Cup winning side and while his career started off with a bang at FC Schalke the first four seasons he underwhelmed since moving to Wolfsburg. He’s been criticized this season for his attitude after not securing a transfer away from the club this summer. Well he got his wish and now he lands with Paris St. Germain. The deal is rumored to be around €35 million but the details were never disclosed.
Lastly, Sevilla of the Spanish La Liga signed striker Stevan Jovetic from Inter Milan on loan. Jovetic hasn’t started a single game for Inter Milan and he’s only appeared in five matches coming on as a reserve. Jovetic has been quite the riddle in recent years. After a solid start to his career at Fiorentina of the Calcio A scoring 40 goals in 4 seasons, Manchester City bought him for £20 million. He was hampered with injuries during his time at City appearing in 44 matches and scoring just 11 times. City living in a win today or else mentality loaned Jovetic to Inter Milan on an 18 month agreement to make room for newer talent. With the emergence of Mauro Icardi at Inter Milan he’s been the odd man out thus the move to Sevilla as another scoring option to Ben Yedder and Vietto.