In Depth

What does the Chinese Super League mean for MLS soccer?

China's spending power is luring many big name stars east, but some think the trend could benefit US football

As the awesome spending power of the Chinese Super League continues to lure players east, Premier League teams face a battle to keep hold of their biggest stars.

Diego Costa, Wayne Rooney and Alexis Sanchez have all been linked with moves to China this month, but while the "the rumblings from China are chilling" for the European elite, they are also a major "cause for alarm" in the US, says Sam Blum of The Guardian.

"In recent years, MLS has banked on the signings of ageing superstars to lend the league an air of credibility as it expands to new markets," he says. "This snowballed into a kind of marketing strategy for the league, making it the ideal arrangement for a European icon to comfortably live out the twilight of his career."

However, the likes of David Beckham, Thierry Henry, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba who all headed west to the US are now more likely to be lured by the riches on offer in China.

Argentine striker Carlos Tevez is reportedly earning $750,000 a week playing for Shanghai Shenhua, says Blum, who notes that he had been linked with a move to the MLS prior to his move to China.

Rio Ferdinand, a former teammate of Tevez at Manchester United, has also said he would choose China over the US if he was offered the choice, reports the website Squawka.

But his reasoning is not purely financial. "I like the culture there," he explained. "[It's] not that I don't like the American culture, but I really have enjoyed my time in Asia when I've been there."

However, the MLS remains bullish about the global talent hunt, even arguing that it could raid Chinese clubs. New rules in China restrict teams to three foreigners in their line-up and that means CSL teams with big squads "are facing a choice between offloading their foreign players and paying them a high salary to sit on the bench".

Meanwhile, argues Blum of the Guardian, missing out on older players may be beneficial to the US league and national side. "On the positive side, China's dominance raises the prospect of MLS eschewing vainglorious signings in favour of homegrown players," he says. The league's relative frugality could also insure it against the gathering storm.

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