Jonathan White: Mikel Obi was wrong about China

A China-based journalist, Jonathan White, has dismissed the claims by John Obi Mikel that playing in the Chinese league for players below 30 would be a waste of time and talent.

Writing on South China Morning Post yesterday, White described Mikel’s claim as unfounded.
White gave examples of the likes of former Mikel’s Chelsea teammate, Oscar as well as former Barca star, Paulino who are making their names in the lucrative Chinese league.
In his article titled: “Chinese Super League: maybe John Mikel Obi is wrong and China move can be career making, White said: “It’s an understandable view, especially from a player who revealed he could not get a Premier League contract in January, but there are plenty of players it seems who are all too happy to ignore Mikel’s misgivings.”
“Take Paulinho, who scored the winner for Guangzhou Evergrande in their 1-0 victory over Mikel’s former teammates. The Brazilian may be 30 but he first joined Evergrande as a 24-year-old and played the best football of his career. What’s more, he translated that to a move to Barcelona where he won the La Liga title. There are not many better clubs to earn a transfer to and there is no reason why Paulinho’s 25-year-old teammate Anderson Talisca cannot follow that lead. If he continues to impress in China then a move to a big European club will follow in due course.
“Up and down the Chinese Super League, there was evidence to refute Mikel’s suggestion. Champions Shanghai SIPG had probably the best example in Mikel’s former Chelsea teammate Oscar. Now 27, the Brazilian left London for Shanghai in the same transfer window as Mikel but his time in China has been more successful. After leading the league in assists last season, he has started where he left off and was involved in all three goals at Shanghai Stadium at the weekend.
“Across town, Odion Ighalo scored his first goal for Shanghai Shenhua. The gossip columns had linked the former Watford man with a move to Barcelona in the transfer window after he scored 21 goals for Changchun Yatai last season. Ighalo’s new team will need a similar return this season. They slumped to a second consecutive home loss with 25-year-old Ayoub El Kaabi on the scoresheet for Hebei China Fortune in their 2-1 win.
“Brazilian 22-year-old Roger Guedes got both for the hosts, while Cameroon striker Christian Bassogog, 23, had put his side ahead. Beijing Guoan put in the performance of the weekend with a 4-0 romp away at Chongqing Lifan.
“Jonathan Viera opened the scoring in the first minute and Cedric Bakambu, who already had a goal chalked off, added the second, then Zhang Yuning scored his first goal with the third before half-time. The 21-year-old will surely have no regrets returning to China from a trio of disappointing spells in Europe. If he can fulfill his potential then he can be another player on the growing list whose career is made rather than ended in the CSL,” White added.
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