When Oscar decided to move from Chelsea to Shanghai SIPG he shocked the footballing world. A player entering his prime moving to China was unprecedented. Why did he make that decision? What other offers did he have? How good can the Chinese Super League become? And will he return to Europe?
On moving to China:
Every football player, or every person who works, wants to earn money to help their families. I came from a social background in Brazil that is very poor. We didn’t have anything. This is the fruit of my work and when I earn this, it is because I conquered it. The same way I came here, I will be able to return to Europe. Whatever decision I make, somebody will talk good or bad about it.
All the foreign players who come here are at a really high level. China has incredible financial power and sometimes makes offers that players can’t refuse. But, as we’ve seen with Paulinho moving to Barcelona, the players on our team – like myself, Hulk and Elkeson – have enough quality to return to Europe.
On life after China:
I hope that in two or three years’ time – or when my contract here ends and I have helped the team to win titles – I could go back to a big team in Europe. Because what I like most is to play at a high level.
When I was talking with Shanghai, I was talking to big clubs from Europe as well. There was Atlético Madrid, who I almost joined. I liked them very much and what they were offering me at that time. There was also Juventus, Inter and AC Milan. I had some options but I opted for Shanghai. Afterwards I can still return to Europe. When I made the decision to come here, I was thinking more of my family than of my career. I had other very good offers from big teams in Europe. But I thought a little more of my family, and after that – I am still young – I can return.
On the Premier League:
I arrived very early in Europe. I arrived at the age of 19, 20 and remained at Chelsea for five years. I won two Premier League titles. I played a lot – and I won a championship with the Brazil team, too. So, although I left very young, I also started very young. I can also think of returning afterwards too. This is in the future, which nobody knows, but right now I am very happy to have made this decision.
Of course, it would be much better to be a part of the Brazil national team. Moving here made that more difficult as I don’t have the same visibility as when I played in Europe, but my level of football is the same. This is a decision for the coach of the national team, to do what’s best for Brazil.
On the future of Chinese football:
It’s almost impossible for the Chinese Super League to reach the level of the Premier League. Not only for China, but also leagues like Spain – which has Real Madrid and Barcelona – to get to the level of the Premier League is very difficult. In the Premier League every team is very good. That’s why it’s very difficult to reach that level.
There are some young players here with a lot of talent, but Shanghai SIPG and China as a whole need more younger players. In Brazil, you start to play in a league that’s at a very high level at the age of 13 or 14. Here in China they start at 18 or 19. They have to start a little earlier if they are to reveal more talent. There are a lot of people in China so there should be some talent.
The fans are really good in China – not only Shanghai; wherever I go, everybody who stops me is super nice. Football is still a little new for the fans so they are not all crazy like Brazilian fans or fans of big European teams. Here they are just starting to become more fanatic. The foreign players have a little more responsibility, because the Chinese players are very good, so the foreigners coming here, at least in our team – that’s me, Hulk and Elkeson – the players are on a very, very high level. They are learning with us. They develop more and more, but the foreigners have a little more responsibility.
In the last three or four years, it has evolved a lot, not only on the pitch, but off the pitch. I hope it will develop more and more, because that is better for Chinese players, for the people who like football here and for people from all over the world who want to come to China. It’s getting better. I hope it will improve more and more.
The Guardian Sport