Sunday 17 December 2017

Chinese money threat to us all - Conte

Chelsea's Italian head coach Antonio Conte
Chelsea's Italian head coach Antonio Conte

Matt Law

Antonio Conte has urged Chelsea players not to allow their heads to be turned by the huge sums on offer in China after Oscar's £60m move to Shanghai SIPG.

The fee for Oscar will be a Chelsea record, and the 25-year-old will earn £350,000 a week by moving to China next month.

Conte, whose team face Crystal Palace in the early kick-off today, believes that the money on offer in the Chinese Super League presents a "danger" to clubs all over the world.

But, even though he could understand why the move to Shanghai appealed to Oscar, Conte insisted that players must get their priorities right and put passion ahead of pounds.

"I think the most important thing for us must be the passion," said Conte. "The passion for football. If you haven't got that, it's no good. No good.

"I repeat: this concept is very important. Before the money must be the passion - the passion for the sport, for football.

"We started to play when we were children without money and only for the passion. Then, also, came money but the passion is more important than money, for me."

Oscar is not the only Premier League player targeted by the Chinese - Alexis Sanchez has been promised £400,000 a week to reject a new Arsenal contract and move to the Far East.

"The Chinese market is a danger for all," said Conte. "For all teams in the world, not only for Chelsea.

"For sure, this market is an incredible market. It's a great opportunity for all: for the coaches, also, not only for the players. They are offering a lot of money. But I think we must concentrate on our work, not think that in China there is a lot of money and they can arrive to take the players there.

"I think this league (the Premier League) is fantastic. To play in this league is a great opportunity, an honour. You must be very proud to play in this league because now it's the best in the world."

Oscar started the first five league games of the season under Conte but lost his place after the home defeat by Liverpool. The Italian will attempt to replace him during next month's transfer window.

"Oscar is a really good player," said Conte. "For me, I was very proud to have him in my squad. I'm proud of his attitude, his commitment and his behaviour, which have been fantastic.

"If you ask me, 'Are you sorry?', then yes, I am sorry. I am sorry because he's leaving as a really good player and a really good man."

Chelsea, meanwhile, have announced a net loss of £70.6m for the year ended June 30, 2016, despite a record turnover of £329.1m because of the "exceptional costs" of buying out their sponsorship deal with Adidas and paying off former manager Jose Mourinho.

Chairman Bruce Buck said: "The fact we recorded our highest revenues in a season when on-pitch performance was disappointing is a credit to our hard-working, dedicated staff and the robust business they have helped build." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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