Italian striker, Graziano Pelle completed a move to Chinese club Shandong Luneng on July 11th, despite interest from Everton and Chelsea. Pelle seems to have been taken in by the £13 million contract he was reportedly offered for joining the Chinese team, meaning that he’ll be earning about £300,000 a week during his tenure in China
According to Transfermarkt.com, Pelle’s total salary in 2013 was just £800,000. Three years later, he’s now on the list of the top ten highest paid football players in the world.
The transfer of the soon to be 31-year-old will bring in £5 million for the Saints as they acquired Pelle in the summer of 2014 for the price of £8 million. The Italian striker has since tallied 30 goals and 10 assists in 94 competitions in total, helping the club achieve back-to-back record breaking seasons in the Premier League.
Pelle was also featured at Euro 2016, scoring two goals for Italy against powerhouse Belgium and reigning champion Spain. Pelle’s impressive performance attracted interest from prestigious English clubs such as Everton and Chelsea. But it was Shandong Luneng who emerged victorious in the chase for the Italian forward by luring the veteran with an unbelievable amount of cash. Pelle will be making more money than household names such as Wayne Rooney and Paul Pogba.
Shandon Luneng, the once mighty giant of the Chinese Super League, hopes the purchase will bring some life back to their disappointing play recently. The team has not won a game in the last ten fixtures and is ranked at the bottom of the table. If the current losing trend continues, the club will be looking at potentially the first relegation of its history.
And it looks like Shandong fans have high hopes as well. Many of them were at the airport in Jinan on Tuesday to welcome their new £13 million star to China, along with his girlfriend.
Pelle’s girlfriend, international model Viktoria Varga, has since thanked Shandong fans for their warm welcome on Instagram.
In recent years, China has surpassed the Middle East and Russia as the prime destination for footballers looking for a big paycheck. Renowned players from major European leagues such as Anelka, Drogba and Hulk have been coming to China since 2013.
But stars don’t even have to come to the Middle Kingdom to feel its influence. Rich Chinese are currently buying up European clubs and even threatening to launch their own European leagues.
[Images via Sohu Sports]