Wednesday January 16th 2019
Myles Cutliffe – UCFB Sports Business & Broadcasting student
Currently playing the best football of his career at West Ham, where he is adored by the fans, Arnautovic has outlined his intention to head far east. The Hammers find themselves in a steady 9th position in the Premier League with a strong chance of European football next season.
Under Pellegrini, West Ham have improved vastly, solidifying once woeful defensive frailties and adding attacking flair. With new signings gelling comfortably and an impressive recent victory over city rivals Arsenal, one would assume east London was a rather desirable place to play football.
In his desire to abandon one of the most competitive leagues in the world, Arnautovic has made clear his motivation. Money talks in the Chinese Super League. However weak the competition may be in comparison to the European and South American leagues, the Chinese top flight boasts an unrivalled financial pull.
Teams in China have been cherry picking players from Europe and South America since the financial boom in 2016. As a result of substantial investment across the division, clubs are able to offer astronomical wages. Brazilians Oscar and Hulk, both of Shanghai SIPG, boast wages of £400k and £320k a week – an astonishing amount for just two players.
Its not just the Shanghai club who are at it. Shandong are paying Graziano Pelle 290k a week. A 33-year old Ezequiel Lavezzi is on 290k a week at Hebei China Fortune. But it was the Carlos Tevez deal that shocked the world back in January 2017. The veteran striker joined Shenhua where he reportedly earned around £615k a week – becoming the highest paid player in the world.
However, Tevez lasted just one year during a turbulent spell with the club. The Argentine, who has played in Argentina, Brazil, England and Italy claimed Chinese football is 50 years behind the world’s best divisions. Not an encouraging advert for the Asian game.
When substituted against Arsenal with 20 minutes to go, fan favourite Arnautovic waved to the crowd as if to say goodbye. A reported £200k a week contract looks to have tempted the Austrian to head to Asia. Due to the current form and adoration of Arnautovic, this deal comes as a bit of a surprise.
Considering Arnautovic’s Premier League status, where big money contracts are plentiful, this deal begs the question – how much money does one footballer need? This transfer is a by-product of a cultural evolution within the game, where players are motivated by money rather than medals at the highest level. China proves yet again, the grass is greener where there’s bucket loads of cash.