Oscar move 'means a lot for Chinese football' - Andre Villas-Boas
Andre Villas-Boas has declared Oscar's decision to link up with him at Shanghai SIPG a game changing move for the Chinese Super League (CSL) after the Brazilian left Chelsea at the start of the transfer window.
Oscar signed for SIPG for over €60 million to sign for the club Villas-Boas joined in November as Shanghai continue to engage in a spending spree the club hopes will land them a first-ever CSL title next season.
"The fact that Oscar has signed for Shanghai means a lot for Chinese football," Villas Boas told DSP magazine in Qatar, where his team are conducting their preseason preparations. "He's a player that joins the Chinese Super League at the age of 25. It means he's at his full potential and had options to go to big clubs.
"Of course, he had great financial attraction to move to China. It's good for us that he has decided to come. We expect a lot from him, but we know that without the help of other players, he can't achieve success. So our idea is to quickly integrate him into our team.
"I don't need to explain about Oscar. He's one of the best midfielders in the world. And we hope we can unlock his full potential in China. It's a difficult move for him because there's a lot of pressure when such a young player comes from a big club like Chelsea directly to China.
"The Chinese market normally attracts star players from the age of 27 or 28. Chinese football should be grateful that we've been able to attract him to Shanghai. The club owners have made a great effort to have him. As coach, I must try to get the best out of him and make sure he's happy. On the other hand, he has to understand that he can't do any magic alone."
Villas-Boas, who replaced former England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson, is one of a string of high profile stars lured to Chinese football by the promise of huge salaries, with SIPG leading the way in terms spending on players from overseas after signing Hulk and Oscar during the last seven months for a combined fee of €115m.
SIPG have been overhauling their squad following a third place finish in the CSL last year as well as a run to the quarterfinals of the Asian Champions League, picking up Uzbekistan midfielder Odil Ahmedov while Ricardo Carvalho is expected to sign for the club ahead of the season after joining Shanghai's preseason camp.
"I've a great relationship with Ricardo since long time ago," said Villas-Boas of the 38-year-old defender. "He has won several titles with some of the biggest clubs in Europe.
"If anybody has doubts about his CV, it's very strange and he knows only little bit about football. Ricardo is one of the best and experienced centre-backs in the world and had won UEFA's best defender award."
Michael Church has written about Asian football for more than 20 years and mainly covers the Chinese game for ESPN FC. Twitter: @michaelrgchurch