Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Mousa Dembele has indicated he could be tempted by a move to the Chinese Super League – but only when he reaches the twilight of his career. The January transfer window has been littered with players moving to the newly big-spending Asian league, including Chelsea pair Oscar and John Obi Mikel.
Brazilian Oscar moved to Shanghai SIPG for £52m, according to The Guardian, while Mikel will earn £140,000-a-week after agreeing to join Tianjin TEDA, according to Eurosport. Such has been the volume of spending, which has also seen Carlos Tevez made the world's best-paid player after agreeing a £615,000-a-week deal with Shanghai Shenhua, that the Chinese government have demanded that the outlay be curbed.
Chelsea boss Antonio Conte had expressed his concern over the money coming out of China, and admitted Europe's big leagues should be wary. Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino claimed he was confident his players would not be tempted by the prospect of improving their pay packet in China, but Dembele has thrown his future into doubt by claiming he would consider the move.
"It is a very difficult choice. For young players who are still growing, it is not wise to go. For older players maybe it's different," Dembele, who turns 30 in July, told Het Nieuwsblad, according to the Evening Standard. "But honestly I have no idea about the level of the championship there. It is hard to say."
Oscar and Mikel joined the likes of Jackson Martinez, Alex Teixeira and Hulk in moving to China, trading in prominent roles at high-profile European clubs for the opportunity to be part of one of the fastest growing divisions in world football. Despite the money on offer, China's top flight remains in a development phase, leading Pochettino to conclude that his Tottenham players would prefer to remain in a competitive environment.
"I don't believe it's a danger for us," the Tottenham coach said, according to the Evening Standard. "I can accept all the decisions, but it's sometimes difficult to understand this type of decision. Football for me is not only money, it's to be competitive and for me the Premier League is the most important league in the world. It's not only money, for me, it's a passion. I need to feel the competition."