China’s big spending football revolution poses little threat to Europe because the world’s top players want to play in the best competitions, Bayern Munich boss Carlo Ancelotti insisted on Tuesday.
The Italian, who has played for and managed some of Europe’s biggest clubs, said modern-day players still chased glory as much as cash.
“I think that the European clubs are safe because the best competition and the most competitive is Europe,” said Ancelotti.
“Players are not playing only for money, they play to be at the top, to play the best games in the world, so for this reason I think that for the future European clubs are safe.”
His comments were made in Doha on the final day of Bayern Munich’s winter training camp before heading back to Germany.
Sharing the same facilities in Qatar this week are Shanghai SIPG, the Chinese club which has just bought Brazilian star Oscar from Chelsea for a reported $60 million euros ($63 million).
That jaw-dropping transfer — and the huge wages the Chinese are able to pay — has led to predictions that the hugely wealthy Chinese Super League can outbid Europe’s best in attracting players.
Among the other stars tempted to China in recent weeks have been much-travelled Argentinian striker Carlos Tevez, current Belgian international Axel Witsel, and another former Chelsea player John Obi Mikel.
Tevez, 32, will reportedly become the highest-paid player in the world with a two-year contract of 38 million euros per season at Shanghai Shenhua.
The world-beating deals are part of a Chinese rush into football with heavy political overtones.
China’s national team is ranked 82nd in the world — just below the Caribbean island nation of St Kitts and Nevis — and are set to fail in their bid to get to the 2018 World Cup.
But President Xi Jinping has declared his hopes of the country one day hosting and winning a World Cup, prompting a flood of money into its top teams.
However, earlier this month, the Chinese authorities ordered a clampdown on the mega sums being shelled out on foreign football stars and warned against “irrational investment”.
Earlier this month, Bayern’s president Uli Hoeness told German media that the extravagant spending by Chinese clubs was “sick”.
He also compared it to the boom in American football in the 1970s when world-famous footballers such as Pele, Franz Beckenbauer and George Best were tempted to play in the US by big-money contracts.