London (AFP) – Arsene Wenger fears the huge wages being offered by big-spending Chinese clubs could cause problems when the Premier League teams look to negotiate new contracts with their star players.
Wenger is currently locked in talks with Arsenal duo Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez as the pair reportedly seek parity with the best-paid players in the Premier League.
The Arsenal manager is hoping for successful resolutions to those contract stand-offs, but he believes the money on offer in the China Super League may persuade the Premier League’s star names to ask for even bigger pay packets to stay in England.
Chelsea striker Diego Costa has been linked with a move to China, with an offer of £600,000-per-week ($739,000) reportedly on the table for the Spain international.
Two of his former Chelsea team-mates, Oscar and John Obi Mikel, have already moved to Super League outfits, while former Manchester United striker Carlos Tevez became the highest-earning player in the world when he joined Shanghai Shenhua in December.
“That’s the danger, that the Chinese offers become the benchmark for Europe,” Wenger said on Thursday when asked if the money on offer in China could complicate negotiations with top players.
“You cannot compete with that but 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.
“Of course it’s a worry but it happened in Europe before. It also happens when you’re at a smaller club.
“Sometimes we had periods where we could not financially compete with the bigger clubs who took our players away from us. It can happen inside the country.”
Despite his fears, Wenger is confident most leading players would want the prestige of playing Europe’s superpowers rather than uproot for financial gains in the much less heralded Chinese league.
“My thought is that when you want to be a football player, your first aspiration is to play in the best league, against the best players,” he said.
“That has to be the first target, after that when you are a professional football player you want to combine the fact you can play in the best league, against the best players, for the maximum amount of money.
“I think that combination is the best in England at the moment, so I don’t see why the players should leave the English Premier League.
“But China has moved forward, tries to promote football and I’m happy that football becomes very popular in China, but I still think most of the players, of the big players, will stay in Europe at the moment.”
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