Brazil playmaker Oscar became the latest high-profile player to be lured to the cash-rich Chinese Super League when he sealed a move to Shanghai SIPG from Chelsea for a reported 60 million pounds ($73.5 million) on Friday.
The English Premier League leaders said Oscar will complete the transfer at the beginning of January, joining a team managed by former Chelsea coach Andre Villas-Boas.
It is the latest show of financial clout from the Chinese league, which has enticed established internationals like Brazilians Hulk, Ramires and Paulinho, Colombia striker Jackson Martinez and Argentine Ezequiel Lavezzi. Carlos Tevez also is reportedly on the verge of moving to China from Boca Juniors.
“The Chinese market is a danger for all,” Chelsea manager Antonio Conte said last week, “not only for Chelsea, but all the teams in the world.”
Aged 25, Oscar is in the prime of his career despite being out of favor under Conte, making only five starts early in the season. He was a key member of Jose Mourinho’s team that won the Premier League in 2015, having joined Chelsea from Brazilian club Internacional in 2012. He scored 38 goals in 203 appearances.
Driven by a government-led vision, China is aiming to be a soccer superpower and have a team capable of winning the World Cup. Having a strong domestic league is central to that and Chinese clubs are offering the kind of money that even the English Premier League cannot match.
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho said this week that the money on offer in China was “attractive for everyone,” but that he preferred to work “at the highest level.”
“I’m too young to go to a place like China,” Mourinho said. “I want to stay in the most difficult place to win.”
Oscar’s transfer fee was not disclosed by Chelsea in its announcement. The BBC, Sky Sports and some British newspapers reported the fee was 60 million pounds.
“Skillful and tenacious, Oscar has been highly regarded by fans, players and staff during his time as a Blue,” Chelsea said in a statement.