More than money on offer for Aussies in China

It’s not just the bank balances of Australia's stars flooding into China which will be boosted by their presence in Asia’s richest league, it’s also the fortunes of Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou.

Tim Cahill

Source: AAP

That’s the belief of Australian agent Ante Alilovic, who has been mining the Chinese market for nearly a decade and is the man responsible for taking Australia legend Tim Cahill to Shanghai Shenhua.

With Cahill now joined in China by fellow Socceroos Matthew Spiranovic (Hangzhou Greentown), Trent Sainsbury (Jiangsu Suning), Ryan McGowan (Henan) and attacker James Troisi (Liaoning Whowin), Alilovic sees no end in sight to the influx.

The agent is currently negotiating another possible Aussie deal to the Chinese Super League before its transfer window closes on 26 February.

While Europe was once the gold standard for Australians looking to better themselves overseas, China, with its sky high wages and eagerness to expand is leading a paradigm shift.

Alilovic sees only upside for Australians looking to join the gravy train.

“Wages are a major factor … if you earn $200,000 in Australia gross, and you can earn over $1 million net in China, well it’s a no-brainer," he explained.

“But then there's also the growing quality of the league. If you are a young Australian player hoping to play for the Socceroos at the World Cup, you won’t think twice.

“You are going to a country that has some of the best foreigners in the world, which means you will be playing with, or against, them and that can only improve your game.

"I can’t see why Ange, or anyone else in the Socceroos camp, could not see the merits of that.

“Tim Cahill is playing alongside three Chinese internationals, two Colombian guns in Fredy Guarin (just signed from Inter Milan) and Giovanni Moreno, plus Mo Sissoko (ex-Liverpool) and Demba Ba.

The league's spending spree has not looked like slowing down, with Guangzhou Evergrand securing the services of Atletico Madrid striker Jackson Martinez in a $70 million deal.

There were raised eyebrows at Sainsbury’s move to mid-table Jiangsu Suning, where he will have $30 million ex-Chelsea midfielder Ramires for company.

But Alilovic, who has already been sounded out by John Terry’s representatives over the Chinese market with his Chelsea future in doubt beyond this season, said: "People have been questioning why Sainsbury left to Eredivisie to go there. Is it a good move? Well don’t forget every foreign striker in China is on around $16 million.

"Players like Gervinho and Asamoah Gyan have gone there to double their money, so Sainsbury will be up against world class players week in week out.

"That can end up strengthening his game and the Socceroos will benefit from that. I am not sure what Trent will earn but it won’t be too far short of $2.5 million net."

Another Australian agent who has dabbled heavily in Chinese market said it was a logical progression for Australians to go there.

“Players can make more than double what they can earn in Korea and Japan, and contrary to what people say it’s a far more stable marker than the Middle East, which is full of cowboys and clubs which don’t honour basic human rights let alone FIFA regulations," he said.

“China has improved dramatically, and you have clubs chasing glory buy tossing around ridiculous amounts of money to win trophies."

But he sounded a note of caution.

“There have been plenty of Australian players who have had payment disputes with clubs in the past ... it all depends on how water tight your contract us. Often agents and players get blinded by the money and don’t look into some of the ramifications of the loopholes.

"However, if you join the right club, you can earn more in one year than what it takes you to earn in seven years or more in Australia under the salary cap rules.

“Asia is a natural destination as part of our confederation but it’s not so much the quality of our players which is attracting the interest, it’s the fact there is an allowance there for them to be counted outside the foreigners quota.

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4 min read
Published 3 February 2016 at 11:45am
By David Lewis