Chinese whispers: Benteke balderdash, Iniesta transfer twists and an on-trend eye roll

Clickbait websites and social media make Chinese Super League stories hard to take at face value plus social media reaction

PUBLISHED : Friday, 16 March, 2018, 12:47pm
UPDATED : Friday, 16 March, 2018, 3:22pm

The Andres Iniesta transfer saga took another couple of twists this week. Mundo Deportivo announced the player was “very close to China”, while the Barcelona captain said he had an offer on the table from a Chinese Super League side and would make his decision before April 30.

Just who the unnamed Chinese club are is yet to be seen but Tianjin Quanjian are insistent it’s not them and have threatened legal action to anyone who says otherwise. That is the second strangest case of Chinese football distancing itself from one of the world’s best players.

Late last year Iniesta was linked to Chongqing Lifan before an opinion piece was published declaring the World Cup winner was deemed “not good enough” by the Chongqing Morning Post.

Another player who sports blue and red stripes has been linked to the CSL. The Sun reports that Crystal Palace’s Belgian international Christian Benteke “wants to join the money trail to China after the World Cup” and Palace would be “happy if a Chinese club came up with the cash”.

No club was named in the story.

Meanwhile, in a deal involving China and Barcelona that has happened, the Catalan club have extended their deal with the Shanghai Pudong Development Bank for another two years. That should allow them enough time to update the club-branded cards, three of the four featured Neymar.

The Brazilian’s new club, Paris Saint-Germain, have signed a deal with marketing agency Desports granting them sponsorship and licensing rights in the mainland and Hong Kong.

Chinese household appliance firm Sinchuan Changhong Electric, makers of Meling fridges, has announced its sponsorship of the Belgian national football team, backing the world’s fifth ranked team ahead of this summer’s World Cup in Russia.

The brand has previously sponsored La Liga broadcasts and the national table tennis team. Apparently the deal with the Red Devils came about in part because the “hong” in Changhong is a homophone for red.

Meanwhile, Portugal have announced a partnership with Wahaha water to follow men’s cosmetics brand Mentholatum. The water peddlers previously sponsored Manchester United.

Weibo darling Alex Pato’s links with actress Di Li Re Ba aka Dilraba Dilmurat are getting weirder. The Brazilian was presented with a poster of the 26th prettiest face in the world after Tianjin Quanjian beat Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors in the AFC Champions League. This is going to only get weirder. Not everyone is into the Brazilian’s public wooing of the beauty, with AFP quoting Yu Yuyang of the Oriental Sports Daily who humbugged that it was “inappropriate” and had nothing to do with football.

Pato will need to get his skates on, though, as he recently told Globo Esporte he doesn’t rule out a return to Europe.

Anyone for Svennis? League One side Oxford United it seems after serial Chinese Super League manager Sven Goran Eriksson saw his odds of taking over at the storied English club slashed from $17 to $4.

Radio Praha has expressed “growing concern” for the ownership of Slavia Prague amid Chinese investor Ye Jianming helping the relevant authorities with their inquires.

Glasgow Rangers fans were not kind to striker Alfredo Morelos after his miss in the Old Firm game cost the side vital points in their chasing down of league leaders Celtic. The hitman was linked with a move to China in the last transfer window and now some fans are suggesting he should go.

Nigerian footballer Aaron Samuel, formerly of Guangzhou R&F explained why he left the Chinese Super League in an interview with goal.com. The Super Eagle returned to Europe to be in the “public eye”. He also offered his take on Chinese players: “If we talk about local football players, then, perhaps because of the characteristics of their growth, they are very fast. But in terms of work with the ball and technology, they are inferior to Europeans.”

Freddy Kanoute was speaking on the state of Malian football but found the time to advocate players moving to China to develop their careers. The former Beijing Guoan man said this of the CSL:

“I have played there and the level is not so bad. It’s good, it’s competitive, the stadiums are full most of the time. So it is really, really interesting to play there.

“Who has said that the only place we have to play football is in Europe? I advocate for developing leagues everywhere – even in Africa. That will change the whole picture of football.”

Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey will not be joining his Wales teammates in Nanning for the China Cup. Thankfully Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale has been named in Ryan Giggs’s first squad, which means the Welsh FA get to keep the majority of the payday they were promised for travelling to the Vietnamese border for a pair of friendlies. Wales play China on Thursday.

Handbags at Hongkou as Shanghai makes its case as a global derby destination

Fifa have shown their capacity for being right on time by getting an official Sina Weibo account about six years after everyone else. Just in time for the World Cup and to tell everyone that China has risen to 65 in their latest rankings.

And finally, this Chongqing Lifan match day poster. Rolls eyes.