Wenger warns against player exodus to China


January 20 – Long-time Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, one of the most knowledgeable coaches of global footballing trends, says top-flight players should opt for playing a better standard rather than automatically take the money by moving to China.Despite a raft of big-name stars furthering their careers in the Chinese Super league, Wenger expects most of them to remain in Europe especially following the introduction of new rules limiting the number of foreign players putting more emphasis on investment in youth development.

“The danger is that the Chinese offers become the benchmark for Europe. You cannot compete with that.  But you do not create a top league [just] like that,” he said. “Professional football in England has been created 150 years ago. I still think that, when you’re a footballer, the first thing is that you want to play against the best players in the best teams.

Wenger knows better than most, having moved to Japan in 1995 to coach in the newly formed professional J League.

“In China it’s new. I know that situation well because, when I went to Japan in 1995, professional football had only been in existence for three years. You expect reflexes from people that aren’t there; the culture of professional football is not there. So it will take time. But China has moved forward. It tries to promote football and I’m happy that football has become popular in China. I also expect India to come to the game too you know. I hope it will happen.”

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