The Chinese Super League hit the headlines last month as a number of high profile names opted for moves to Asia rather than staying put in Europe. This exodus of players from the European game, especially in the Premier League, could aid the English national team, giving young English players the chance for more first team opportunities.
With the exception of one or two players, those who are heading to China tend to be mediocre Premier League players, West Ham’s Nikica Jelavic being a prime example. Other Premier League flops such as Paulinho, Gervinho and Gael Kakuta have also made the jump. One criticism that top English clubs have levelled at them is that they buy in foreign mediocrity rather than developing their own players. With the rise in profile of the Chinese game, as well as the vast riches that it can offer, perhaps some of these players will look east.
The rise of the league could continue, with very good internationals such as Ramires and Alex Teixeira already joining the league. If this is not another false dawn, as in the 2012-13 season, you could see players of genuine talent heading to China. Okay, you won’t see the likes of Messi or Ronaldo packing their suitcases, but players in the next tier down might just think about it.
This would leave Premier League clubs with a choice, whether to compete financially with the Chinese Super League for the second tier of players, or to give a chance to their youth prospects that they have spent years developing. Ruben Loftus-Cheek has already felt the benefit of Ramires’ exit from Chelsea, and the England Under-21 international has been rewarded with a new five year deal for his performances. At Liverpool, although not a youngster, Adam Lallana will continue to play week in – week out, as January target Teixeira chose China over Merseyside. Spurs reject Paulinho will be plying his trade in China this year, whilst Deli Alli and Eric Dier have flourished in midfield.
In time, if the Chinese Super League grows in the scale of MLS, a greater proportion of English players will get first team chances in the Premier League, which can only benefit the English national team.