Graziano Pelle will not be joining Antonio Conte’s Italian revolution as Stamford Bridge as the Sunderland striker has instead opted to move to Chinese side Shandong Luneng in a £13 million deal. Pelle had been linked with a move to Chelsea since the January transfer window.
The Italy international made 81 appearances and scored 30 goals for the south-coast club following his arrival from Feyenoord for £8 million two years ago.
A statement on Southampton’s official website read:
‘Everyone at Southampton Football Club would like to thank Graziano for his efforts during his time at St Mary’s and wish him well for the future.’
Pelle will partner former Premier League forward Papiss Cisse up front who also signed for Shandong from Newcastle on Saturday.
Pelle is the latest player to switch to China in a big-money move following the transfers of Jackson Martinez, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Ramires.
The Chinese spending is not over either as Eric Gao, the man behind the Chinese version of the International Champions Cup, says that Chinese Super League clubs will spend heavily this summer and that no player is out of their financial reach.
Gao that he feels that the South American market has been picked clean and that the Premier League, despite its wealth, offers the best buying opportunity at the moment.
“In terms of the Premier League, there are no limits. Chinese clubs will pay players two or three times more than they are at present,” added Gao.
“The players would make more money at Chinese clubs.
“Beijing Guoan have drawn up a short list of top players from Manchester City who interest them. I cannot tell you any of their names as it would not be the opportune time to do so.”
Two of the top five highest paid players in the world now play for Chinese clubs
TOP 5 BEST PAID PLAYERS
- Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) – £18m per year
- Lionel Messi (Barcelona) – £17m per year
- Hulk (Shanghai SIPG) – £17m per year
- Neymar (Barcelona) – £16.2m per year
- Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Manchester United) – £13.6m per year
- Graziano Pelle (Shandong Luneng) – £13.6m per year