Former England manager Sven-Goran Ericsson has encouraged Wayne Rooney to move to the Chinese Super League this summer.
The 31-year-old, now a peripheral figure at Old Trafford, revealed he had received plenty of offers from other clubs and that he would make a “footballing decision” over the summer.
But he has not, according to reports, received any offers that come close to satisfying his lofty wage demands, with Manchester United unwilling to fund a chunk of his salary to push a move through.
Eriksson, who spent four years with three different Super League clubs (most recently with Shenzhen), has advocated the idea of Rooney moving to China.
“I haven’t spoken to Rooney for a long time, so I don’t know what he is thinking, but if he went to China I think he would have a positive experience,” he said.
“He has a young family but there are international schools in the big cities and I know for sure he would have every help possible to make him settle. He would be made very welcome.
“If you want to eat Italian, Japanese or Spanish food then there are a lot of restaurants like that and you have everything you need. You don’t feel cut off at all, I certainly didn’t and none of the foreign players I had with me felt that way either.
“I lived in Guangzhou, Shanghai and Shenzhen and they were fantastic cities. I don’t think any foreigner had difficulties with the Chinese way of living in the big cities while I was there.”
“The only problem you have is the language. But if you live in Shanghai or Beijing you have a lot of foreign people, so it is less of an issue. I bumped into many Swedish people in Shanghai and many Europeans live there, working for big companies.
“And, don’t forget, the players get treated well. They have everything they need and are very well looked after, so for someone like Rooney or Diego Costa that would not be a problem.”
“When I was at Shanghai SIPG, I had the Brazilian player Hulk, who had joined for over £50million from Zenit St Petersburg.
“He had no problems with life in China – his only problem was that he got injured on his debut and was out for two months after that. But I never heard him complain about life in China at all – everything else was good.”
It is a common western misconception to view China, and indeed the Far East in general, as somewhat alien – a place with almost mystical uniqueness that, by necessity, can never be fully understood by those from outside.
But Sven makes a good point: China, far more than Europe, is a booming economic giant, with cities like Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Tianjin bursting with affluence and a pristine – and in some ways more advanced – way of life.
The idea of Rooney trying to speak Chinese is indeed painful and hilarious to imagine at the same time, but he would received as a demigod if he did arrive – a stark contract to the denigration he receives from supporters here for not being good enough.
In fact, when it comes to the problem of his wages, China is the only place he can realistically go. The United captain is no longer capable of playing at a level much higher than the Super League, and western equivalents in terms of quality will never be able to afford the Englishman’s salary without their wage structure caving in on itself.