On Monday, Atletico Madrid confirmed that winger Yannick Carrasco has joined Chinese Super League team Dalian Yinfang for an undisclosed fee. The deal will have shocked many football supporters, as the Belgium international is regarded as a bright prospect.
We have seen a number of players chase the big wages on offer in China. However, Carrasco seems like one of the most promising to have made the move. Atletico teammate Nico Gaitan has also joined the Super League new boys.
Money over ambition
Carrasco is 24-years-old. He has not been a blinding success at Atleti, but he has shown flashes of his ability since joining from Monaco as a highly rated young player. The winger will no doubt have had interest from elsewhere.
In fact, Carrasco has reportedly been a target of numerous Premier League clubs in the past, including Arsenal. A move to the Premier League or another high profile European league would have been one that would keep him in the spotlight. It would have shown ambition on the player’s part to fulfil his potential and become a top player.
However, for all he attempts to say that he is excited by the move on a sporting level, the deciding factor was the likely ridiculous wages on offer in China. He could have stayed in a European league and probably picked up a bigger wage than at Atletico Madrid.
Most clubs in the big European leagues cannot compete with the riches on offer in the Far East, though, so he took his opportunity to line his pockets.
Can we blame him?
Football fans like to think of the beautiful game as our sport. However, in reality, it is just a big game of business and one of the biggest in the world. While players may have a certain affinity to some clubs, for most it is just a job.
A football club is just an employer, who happens to offer very good wages. Carrasco has very little connection to Atletico Madrid. He is not a local, who grew up and went to the Vicente Calderon. He is a foreign player, who just happens to be representing the club from the Spanish capital.
I would argue that in the same position, most people would take a massive pay rise, even if it did mean moving thousands of miles away from your homeland. Some players have spoken honestly about a move to China making their family financially secure and that is understandable on a human level.
However, on a football level, it is a very strange move indeed. He may feel that a few years out of the European limelight and media may well help him develop his game.
A prime example of a player heading to China and coming back a stronger player is Brazilian midfielder Paulinho. He struggled to perform at Tottenham, moved to China and inexplicably the midfielder move to Barcelona last summer.
I have to admit, I had to Google to check that it was the same person and not another Brazilian Paulinho. However, something happened to the midfielder in China and he is now a performing well for the Catalan giants, fitting in amongst illustrious company at the Nou Camp.
Maybe the same will happen to Carrasco and in two years’ time, he will return to the European game a far better player for his time in the Far East. Who knows, eh?
History repeating itself
Clubs in particular countries offering big wages to attract players is not a new phenomenon. The USA attracted the world’s best players in the 1970’s to play in the North American Soccer League, with the likes of Pele, Frank Beckenbauer and Bobby Moore all playing soccer stateside.
The league eventually folded. However, the rebirth of soccer in the US in the 1990’s led to MLS franchises giving ageing stars like David Beckham and Carlos Valderrama amongst others major wages to perform.
Serie A also did it in the 80’s and early 90’s, before the Premier League and La Liga followed suit in recent years. In truth, it has always been the same. Footballers are human beings and will go where they feel can offer them the best lifestyle.
I can understand Yannick Carrasco’s move from a financial point of view. However, if he stays in China too long, it could well prove to be career suicide.
Should Yannick Carrasco have stayed in Europe?
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