Dumped by Shanghai – did Tim Cahill pay price for criticising Chinese football’s spending spree?
Australian star signed a new contract only in November, but has been deemed surplus to requirements with club possibly set to replace him with Manchester United’s Marouane Fellaini
Australian star Tim Cahill criticised China's "revolving door" this month - less than two weeks later, it's hit him on the backside.
While half the world’s footballers seem to be heading to the Chinese Super League, Cahill is on his way out – at least from his current club Shanghai Shenhua. He revealed on Instagram that he has been dumped by Shanghai mere months after signing a new contract.
Earlier this month, Cahill criticised China’s spending spree calling it “crazy” and saying “it’s pretty much like a revolving door, you see a lot of players coming in and a lot of players going.”
A popular player, fans reacted angrily to the news he was leaving Shanghai - but despite his criticisms of the league's spending splurge he looks set to stay in China and it is understood he will sign a deal with another club in the league in the next 48 hours.
Cahill, who was one of the bigger names to move to China last season and had been a hit, said “I’m very sorry to announce that I have reached an agreement with Shanghai Shenhua to terminate my contract after being told that I’m not part of the new coach Manzano’s plans for the 2016 season having only just signed a new contract in November.”
I'm very sorry to announce that I have reached an agreement with Shanghai Shenhua to terminate my contract after being told that I'm not part of the new coach Manzano's plans for the 2016 season having only just signed a new contract in November. This is very sad especially after what I feel I have helped to build in Shanghai Shenhua on and off the park. Just thinking about saying goodbye to my team-mates and especially the amazing fans is heartbreaking. Regardless of whether my contract is being honored and paid out in full, I would much rather have seen it out and finished what we started. I will always think about what could have been for us as a club in 2016. I will be able to share more information in the next 48 hours once the final details have been completed. Next chapter coming very soon! I would like to thank the amazing Shenhua supporters, the Chinese staff members and all my teammates for your amazing support; you will all be remembered by my family and myself. I would also like to thank my Chinese partner SECA for their continued support in my career. 我怀着十分遗憾的心情告诉大家，上海绿地申花足球俱乐部（下称俱乐部）与我已经达成协议，终止我在去年十一月份刚刚和俱乐部签下的新合同。在此之前，俱乐部通知我已不是球队新任主教练曼萨诺在2016赛季计划中的一员。 不管是场内还是场外，我都对这支球队倾注了所有的心血，因此，当这一天到来的时候尤其令人伤感。一想到要与队友和那些令人难以置信的球迷们道别，就让我心痛不已。 无论我现在与俱乐部的合同是否被尊重、合同违约金是否会被完全支付，在我的内心深处，我更加希望自己能履行完去年11月与俱乐部新签订的合同，达成我们当时共同制定的目标，为俱乐部贡献我的所有。在我心里，一直构想着俱乐部在2016年可以取得的成就——为这个美妙的球队和伟大的城市带来奖杯。 在接下来的48小时中，我将和俱乐部商定最终细节，届时，我可以和大家分享更多。 我想借此机会，向一直以来给我无限支持且无与伦比的申花俱乐部球迷、俱乐部中的中国工作人员和我的所有队友们表示衷心的感谢。我和我的家庭会一直将你们放在心里。同时，我想对我的中国合作伙伴盛力世家表示感谢。
A photo posted by Tim Cahill (@tim_cahill) on Feb 16, 2016 at 1:16am PST
Shanghai have not been one of the biggest spenders in this winter’s crazy transfer window, with Internazionale’s Fredy Guarin for €13 million (HK$112 million) their flagship signing. As they already have their quota of foreign players, they have to make room in the squad if they want to make a bigger flagship signing. Manchester United’s Marouane Fellaini has been linked.
Rivals Shanghai SIPG spent €18.5 million on Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao’s Elkeson this winter, while Guangzhou themselves, Jiangsu Suning and Hebei China Fortune have also signed players for huge money.
Paris Saint-Germain’s Argentine forward Ezequiel Lavezzi has signed with Hebei, with the club describing him as “the next Maradona” on a verified social media account.
They did not disclose a transfer fee, but previous UK press reports said he would earn £23.5 milliion (HK$262 million) over two years.
Cahill has always appeared enthusiastic about life in Shanghai and keen to promote China in general through regular social media posts, which makes his departure all the more surprising.
He recently drifted off message and criticised the league’s massive spending splurge.
“Choices now players are making, it’s not about football like it was in my day, it’s purely about personal gains,” he said on a Fox Sports Australia panel show at the start of the month. “Is [going to China] going to help players? No. Is it going to be big for the country? Yes.
“It’s crazy to see [the spending] but this is only going to get worse. This is going to be massive. Soon they’ll break the $100m bracket very easily. I don’t know whether it’s going to help the league, but they’re investing. They’re doing great things. They’ve got the power.
“This sort of investment in players is a Catch 22. Does it help the Chinese? To a certain extent no. When you sign players like this, everything in the final third [of the pitch] is up to us [foreigners], if we don’t deliver, it doesn’t happen.”
Cahill told his fans on Instagram to expect news in the next 48 hours, with his agent suggesting he would stay in China.
“He will stay in China. I’m in Asia now and will be with him in two days to discuss potential deals [and] there are a few interested clubs,” Ante Alilovic told AAP.
Shanghai wished Cahill well on their Weibo page, saying the agreement to end the deal was mutual in a post with the jovial headline “See you again, Timmy!”
Some fans reacted with anger, with the Football Federation Australia website quoting Dong Mei of fans’ group Blue Devils.
“Even though he is Australian, Cahill was one of us,” he said.
“In every game he gave everything. It was like having a fan on the pitch fighting for us. Fans can’t believe that the club would release him.
“We have had so many foreign players that have come and gone without making an impact so to lose Cahill is an unpopular decision.”