Celebrated Swedish football manager Sven-Goran Eriksson believes that what the Chinese Super League (CSL) needs to reach the next level is Wayne Rooney leaving behind Manchester United to play for his Shanghai club.
With a long and decorated career as a player and manager, Eriksson is currently the manager of the Shanghai SIPG. He says that while the sport has grown at an astronomical rate in China, what it still needs is a player of Rooney’s caliber to take it to “another level.” He told The Sun:
Football is becoming huge here and they have very big ambitions for the Chinese Super League. We already have famous players, like Robinho, Asamoah Gyan and Demba Ba, and they have brought something special.
“But of course Rooney is at another level. He is top, top, top — in the same category as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Eriksson moved to China back in 2013 to take over Guangzhou R&F, but has coached Shanghai SIPG since November 2014, leading the club to a second place finish.
Rooney still has three years left on his current contract, so Eriksson is thinking more down the line here, but he already has his pitch pretty well down.
“Everybody in China knows the superstar players like him. Rooney would take this league to another level, I have no doubt about that,” Eriksson said. “I live in Shanghai, and if you asked me to compare it to London, I honestly couldn’t say which was better.”
Just like the “other” Ronaldo opening three football schools in China, having Rooney play in the CSL would fit right into China’s grand plans to get better at football and hopefully, maybe, someday host the World Cup.
However, it might have helped if Xi hadn’t snubbed Man United during his official visit to the UK last month. Hope it was worth it: