Leaving Chelsea for China not a step down: Oscar in Doha

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, FOOTBALL

DOHA: Oscar insisted on Wednesday that quitting the English Premier League to play in China was not a step down -- but admitted that the mind-boggling financial offer was a definite incentive.

In his first substantive comments since leaving Chelsea for an eye-catching 60 million euros ($63 million), Oscar said the big-spending Chinese Super League would eventually rival the best leagues in the world.

"I don't think it is a step down," said Oscar, who is training in Qatar with his new team Shanghai SIPG, who reportedly made the Brazilian international one of the highest-paid players in the world. 

"I think in China they are making a great project for me and all the good players that are coming to the league. I am pretty sure that in the future the Chinese league will be one of the best leagues in the world."

The attacking midfielder's recent transfer to Shanghai was seen as a potential game-changer for the ambitious Chinese Super League.

Among other stars tempted to China in recent weeks have been much-travelled Argentine striker Carlos Tevez, current Belgian international Axel Witsel, and another former Chelsea player in Ricardo Carvalho, who will also line up for Shanghai SIPG.

Tevez, 32, will reportedly become the best-paid player in the world with a two-year contract of 38 million euros per season at Shanghai Shenhua.

But it was 25-year-old Oscar's decision to leave one of Europe's top clubs and the current English league leaders while still in his prime that sent a powerful statement of China's new-found power in world football.

The Brazilian is thought to be on a contract worth 24 million euros a season and has faced accusations that he has gone to play in China only for money.

Oscar agreed money played a part, but said that was the case for all his transfers.

"This happens with every player, if it wasn't for money I wouldn't leave Brazil," he told reporters in Doha.

"When you go to Europe you go because of the money and because of the good clubs also and in Shanghai the project is to be one of the best leagues.

"Of course it was also good for me and my family and for everyone involved in the transfer."

He added that the surprise move came out of the blue and after talking to his family and agent "we accepted immediately".

"It didn't take long, everybody accepted it was a good deal for all sides, so it was a quick deal."

Oscar, who has played 47 times for Brazil, added that moving to China would not affect his international chances, citing the fact that Paulinho also plays in China and for Brazil.

"I don't think that will be a problem, if I am playing good for my team I will be in the national team without a problem," he said.

China's President Xi Jinping has outlined a vision for turning his country into one of football's superpowers.

He has also set China a target of hosting and winning a World Cup. AFP

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