'Crazy' Chinese spending spree just the start - Cahill
MELBOURNE (Reuters) - The spending splurge by Chinese clubs to secure top Europe-based talents is "crazy" and will do little to benefit the players or the game in China, according to Australia's Shanghai-based striker Tim Cahill.
His nation's most prolific goal-scorer, 36-year-old Cahill is set for a second season with Chinese Super League (CSL) club Shanghai Shenhua, having moved across from New York Red Bulls last year on a lucrative one-year deal.
Since Cahill re-signed for Shenhua last October, CSL clubs have spent over 130 million euros ($145 million) in transfer fees on just four players, with Jiangsu Suning shelling a Chinese record 50 million euros to secure Brazilian midfielder Alex Teixeira in a move completed last week.
The spending spree has raised fears in Europe of a talent drain, with the top leagues unable to compete with CSL clubs backed by the financial might of local tycoons.
Cahill said it was only a matter of time before a Chinese club spent $100 million to secure a player.
"It's crazy to see but this is only going to get worse," the former English Premier League player told Australian broadcaster Fox Sports. "This is going to be massive.
"I don't know whether it's going to help the league, but they're investing. They're doing great things.
"They've got the power.
"When they want something they get it, and when they don't want something they get rid of it."
Teixeira's signing came only days after Guangzhou Evergrande secured Colombian striker Jackson Martinez from Atletico Madrid for 42 million euros.
AS Roma striker Gervinho completed a move to Hebei China Fortune FC last month, with leading Premier League names Demba Ba and former Sunderland striker Asamoah Gyan also moving to China last year.
"Choices now players are making, it's not about football like it was in my day, it's purely about personal gains," Cahill said.
"Is (going to China) going to help players? No.
"Is it going to be big for the country? Yes."
China's soccer has never matched its vast population or its economic clout, and the national men's team currently ranks 93rd in the world and 11th in Asia.
But the country's President Xi Jinping is a known soccer fan and has demanded soccer officials lift the standard rapidly.
Cahill was not convinced the foreign signings would help.
"This sort of investment in players is a catch 22," he said.
"Does it help the Chinese? To a certain extent no.
"When you sign players like this, everything in the final third is up to us, if we don't deliver, it doesn't happen."
($1 = 0.8978 euros)
(Reporting by Ian Ransom; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)