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Conte says Chinese financial muscle a threat

London (AFP) – The new-found spending power of Chinese clubs is a danger to teams all over the world, even the Premier League, Chelsea manager Antonio Conte warned on Friday.

The Italian, whose side will try to make it 11 league wins on the bounce against Crystal Palace on Saturday, made the remarks when asked about reports Chelsea’s Brazilian midfielder Oscar is to join Shanghai SIPG for an estimated £60 million ($76m, 71.5m euros).

The league leaders’ iconic but ageing captain John Terry, who is out injured and like Oscar not first choice, has also been linked with a move to China, where teams are snapping up foreign players on mammoth wages.

Conte believes that means Chinese clubs could entice the best players.

“I don’t know exactly the amount or the situation,” said Conte of Oscar. “But now we have to wait. I think when it will be the moment, you’ll know Oscar’s situation.

“The Chinese market is a danger for all teams in the world. Not only for Chelsea, but all teams in the world.”

Conte, 47, who made his name as a manager with Juventus, for whom he also played with distinction as a combative midfielder, said China may have the money but the quality remained in the Premier League.

“I think that this league is fantastic and to play in this league is a great opportunity, a great honour,” said Conte, who will have Belgian star Eden Hazard back this weekend after he missed the midweek 1-0 victory over Sunderland because of a knee injury.

“You must be very proud to play in this league because I think now it’s the best league in the world.”

Oscar is one of three big South American names to be linked to a move to China this week.

Veteran Argentine striker Carlos Tevez has been courted by Shanghai Shenhua while Manuel Pellegrini told The Sun he would welcome with open arms compatriot Alexis Sanchez.

Sanchez is locked in protracted contract talks with present club Arsenal and could expect to be paid £500,000 a week by Pellegrini’s Hebei China Fortune.   

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