Shanghai, China, Jan 2 – Brazilian star Oscar was given a hero’s welcome when he landed in Shanghai on Monday in a 60-million-euro deal (£51 million) from Chelsea that smashes the Asian transfer record.
Dozens of chanting Shanghai SIPG supporters mobbed the international midfielder, 25, at the city’s Pudong airport.
Oscar’s arrival in the Chinese Super League (CSL) comes ahead of that of Argentina’s former Manchester United striker Carlos Tevez, who signed for Shanghai Shenhua in another big-money deal last week.
Tevez’s transfer fee was 10.5 million euros, according to the website transfermarkt.com, which tracks football transfers, and the 32-year-old is reportedly set to become the highest-paid player in the world with a two-year contract of 38 million euros per season.
Oscar’s deal with Shanghai SIPG is thought to be 24 million euros a season — which would put him above Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi — but the fee they paid to Chelsea eclipses the estimated 55.8 million euros the ambitious Chinese side shelled out for Brazilian striker Hulk in July.
SIPG general manager Sui Guoyang admits that Chinese clubs need to offer eye-watering sums of money if they are to get in the big names.
“If we don’t offer 60 million euros, do you think he will bother to come?” Sui asked last week of Oscar, according to Sky Sports.
“There’s such a huge gap between CSL and Europe’s top leagues. It’s unrealistic to suggest that we would have done it in a different way.
“The cost of signing the player was €60m indeed, not £60m. The club’s senior management personally flew to Paris to seal the deal.”
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte, who dropped Oscar this season and deemed him surplus to requirements at the Premier League title-chasers, last month said the burgeoning financial muscle of Chinese clubs was “a danger” to football because few other teams in the world could compete with the vast sums they are splashing out.
After escorting Oscar through a media scrum on arrival, Sui dismissed concerns raised by Chinese state media of a market bubble in the Chinese league, again arguing that prices have to be higher to attract players away from big European leagues.
“The league is developing so of course it will go through many different stages,” Sui told AFP.
“I believe that from now on the Chinese Super League will become healthier and more normal.”
Some fans put it more bluntly.
“In the end if you do not pay the money then nobody would be willing to come over here,” said SIPG supporter Zou Jiahuo.
Oscar and Hulk will work under former Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas at the Shanghai club.