After Tottenham’s big 4-0 win over West Brom on Saturday, Harry Kane was asked about the big issue of the day: the Chinese Super League. Kane, who scored a hat trick just days after becoming a father for the first time, flatly dismissed the idea that any Tottenham Hotspur players would be tempted to leave Spurs for China and the promise of a huge salary.
“I would be very, very surprised if any of our players go off to China, especially within the next couple of seasons. We have something great going on here and it would be silly not to be a part of it.
“Players will choose what they want to choose. Some are going to go there and earn some good money, but a lot of players will stay. The ambition is to win the Premier League and other trophies, and play in the best league in the world.
“I think that drives most players so I don’t think it’s that much of an issue. Chinese football is trying to do all it can to make their league as good as ours, and you can’t fault them for that. But I definitely think the ambition to win the Premier League will drive players more, especially young ones.”
I have, in the past, defended players like Oscar who have left European football clubs to chase a payday in China. After all, football careers are short in the grand scheme of life, and I would never begrudge a player who wants to score a big payday while he’s still in the prime of his career.
However, in this case I think Kane’s got a point, at least with regards to Spurs’ best players. Tottenham are showing real ambition, and there’s a positive atmosphere surrounding the club the likes of which I haven’t ever seen since becoming a supporter. Spurs are among the top 5 best clubs in England every season now, have built a solid core of young footballing talent that loves the club, and have a state-of-the-art new stadium coming in a season and a half that will be the pride of London.
It’s not hard to imagine happy players who are playing for important things in one of the best leagues in world football wanting to give up some money in the short term to be a part of something bigger in the medium to long term.
Moreover, there are signs that the huge Chinese football bubble might be starting to weaken. China’s FA recently changed the rules for the Super League, now requiring clubs to field only three foreign players at any one time, and tamping down the amount of money that’s going towards attracting foreign talent to the Super League. The lure of China for top players is the money, not the destination or the level of competition. Turn off that tap, and the big money offers start to dry up.
Either way, Spurs almost certainly don’t have to worry about Chinese influence in the short term, and probably not in the long term either. Who would want to disappoint Harry Kane?