Argentina international Ezequiel Lavezzi has become the latest player to make a big-money move to China after agreeing to join Hebei China Fortune on a two-year deal from Paris Saint-Germain. Lavezzi has made just three Ligue 1 starts this season and was due to be out of contract at the end of the campaign, while he also was linked with a January move to Premier League champions Chelsea.
Gazzetta dello Sport understood the Blues were plotting a £3m ($4.3m) move for the 30-year-old but the club were forced to settle for just one forward addition in the form of Brazilian Alexander Pato. The former Napoli and San Lorenzo striker has joined the Chinese Super League club in a money-spinning deal worth £23.5m over 24 months, according to Sky Sports.
Following in the footsteps of the likes of Ramires, Alex Teixeira and Jackson Martinez, who have all swapped careers in Europe for a spell in the Far East, Lavezzi becomes the latest player to snub a move to a continental rival, in this case Chelsea, over the riches on offer in China, whose transfer window closes on 26 February. Despite being three months short of turning 31, Hebei have labelled the player the "next Maradona".
Coming to the end of his contract at the Parc des Princes, Lavezzi would have been available on a free transfer come the summer with Chelsea among the clubs interested in continuing his spell at the top end of European football. Speaking during the January window, former defender Jason Cundy was keen on the club completing a deal for the World Cup runner-up.
"Ezequiel Lavezzi's name keeps cropping up," the ex-Chelsea man told IBTimes UK. "He is out of contract in the summer and Paris Saint-Germain will surely try and get as much money for him as they can before his contract expires. He is the wrong side of 30 so that is certainly a downside."