Sven-Goran Eriksson: Just a matter of time before Rooney, Ronaldo and Messi play in China
Former England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson has claimed that it's inevitable that the likes of Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi will play in the Chinese Super League at some point.
Eriksson currently coaches a CSL side called Shanghai SIPG, and the Swede confidently predicts that the vast wave of transfer spending by Chinese clubs this winter will only get bigger.
"I remember the 90s in Italy. Top clubs in Italy then had more money than any other club in Europe, and it was where all wanted good football players go," he said.
"Then around 2000 there was a change, the Premier League became the world's most coveted league to play given the money and contracts.
"Now, in 2016, China seems to be taking over. Top Chinese clubs today can hold their own with the biggest clubs in Europe when it comes to the transfer fees...
"Names like Lionel Messi, [Cristiano] Ronaldo, [Wayne] Rooney, yes, it will probably happen pretty soon."
Throw in the Chinese government's commitment to backing its league, the £830 million TV deal recently signed by the division and the influx of big-money signings already making their way to China - not least Brazil's Alex Teixeira, a target for Chelsea and Liverpool in January before his £38m switch to Jiangsu Suning - and it seems that the future direction of the football market is becoming ever clearer.
"The consumption power in China is huge and gigantic – the consumption of sport is about to burst in China."