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Premier League needs to worry as China spends big money on soccer stars: Wenger

MUMBAI: China is in the process of developing club soccer at a scale that could rival English Premier League in the long run.

Chinese Super League is spending big money to poach players, a signal that it could inflate the European transfer market and later pose a threat to Premier League.

The warning has come from none other than Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger who has cautioned not to underestimate the enormous spending power of Chinese football. Chelsea counterpart Antonio Conte has also expressed similar concern.

Some big names have moved to the Chinese clubs. Chelsea midfielder Oscar has reportedly signed up for $490,760 per week to join Shanghai SIPG in the 16-team competition.

Arsene WengerJiangsu Suning has roped in Ramires from Chelsea and Alex Teixeira from Shakhtar Donetsk for combined fees of £63 million. Jackson Martinez has moved from Atletico Madrid to Guangzhou Evergrande for £31 million. Graziano Pelle and Ezequiel Lavezzi are also recent arrivals in China.

Argentine striker Carlos Tevez is close to signing up for Shanghai Shenhua. Media has also speculated Arsenal winger Alexis Sanchez moving to Hebei China Fortune.

“The Premier League should be worried,” said Wenger. “Because China seems to have the financial power to lure every player from Europe to China.”

“We don’t know if they will sustain their desire to do it. A few years ago, Japan started to do it and that has not really continued. But if there’s a very strong political desire in China to become a big player, we should be worried. Their financial strength could prise some Premier League clubs out of the market,” he added.

Wenger believes there is already a big inflation of transfer fees and the £100 million signing will happen regardless.