The transfer window is on the horizon and there was an interesting story that emerged on Tuesday afternoon. The Daily Mail are reporting that Chelsea midfielder Oscar is set to join Chinese Super League club Shanghai SIPG for an incredible £52 million fee. Although this has yet to be confirmed by the club, Oscar has been linked with a move to China before and he is one of the few players that Chelsea would be willing to sell in January. It would break the record for the highest fee paid by a Chinese club and highlights the spending power that the league has.
Oscar wasn’t sold during the summer despite interest from a number of clubs and he started the season as a regular in the first team. However, he hasn’t started a Premier League match since September and since the change in formation, he has only featured in a handful of minutes. It is obvious that he is no longer in Antonio Conte’s plans and the opportunity for Chelsea to get such a big fee for a squad player can’t be passed up.
This will provide the Chelsea boss with a decent January budget with which to improve his own squad. Although they are top of the league, there are positions that need to be strengthened, as there isn’t as much depth in the squad for the 3-4-3 formation. Ideally, they will want at least one more centre back, winger and central midfielder. Conte will need to identify targets that suit the new style of play at the club and it is useful that he has quality players that he can move on, like Oscar. It is possible that Cesc Fabregas and John Obi Mikel may also be moved on in January as well.
For Oscar as a player, this is an odd move. The Chinese Super League is a developing league and one that has the finances to attract good players. However, it lacks the prestige of the European Leagues and for that reason, it suits players coming towards the end of their careers that have already achieved a lot in Europe. At the age of 25, Oscar has a lot more to offer the sport and has yet to reach his peak. There are a lot of European teams that would be interested in him and to move to China at this age suggests a lack of ambition.
The Chinese Super League is now becoming useful to Premier League clubs as they are able to offload their unwanted squad players for big fees, which then allows them to strengthen themselves and avoid any FFP complications. This was seen last January with Chelsea selling Ramires to Jiangsu Suning and again in the summer as Graziano Pelle moves to Shandong Luneng. They are desperate for good players to move to China that they would be willing to spend big money on Premier League players, especially those that have international experience. Also the rumoured £52 million fee for Oscar shows that Chinese clubs are prepared to pay more players are actually worth in order to complete the deal. If the Brazilian was moving to another European club, that fee would be significantly less.
If this story does turn out to be true, then it is once again an excellent deal for Chelsea. They are the best club at moving on unwanted players for a profit and thus avoiding any FFP sanctions. Conte will have the funds to go and strengthen his squad, consolidating his side’s position at the top of the table. The problem for Chelsea has been an inability to rotate since the change in formation, but with this money, they now have the opportunity to correct that in January.
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