As more players move to an increasingly ambitious Chinese Super League that is offering huge salaries to lure in European based players, it was only a matter of time before they started to tempt Fiorentina players. Previously, Chinese Super League team Tianjin Quanjin, was interested in Nikola Kalinic - although they allegedly made a significant offer to the player, they were not willing to reach Kalinic’s €50m buy out clause; in addition the Croatian striker himself rejected the offer to stay with Fiorentina.
The Kalinic saga was out in the open for over a month. What we only know now however, according to Gianluca Di Marzio, assistant captain and club icon Borja Valero also rejected an offer from China. Heibei China Fortune coach Manuel Pellegrini personally wanted the 32 year old Spaniard, however the midfielder, who has previous stated his intentions to finish his career with Fiorentina, turned down the potential pay raise to remain in Florence.
Heibei, the 7th most valuable club in China, has showed expensive ambition since being purchased by real estate development corporation China Fortune Land Development in 2015, having brought in Radomir Antic and then Manuel Pellegrini as coaches. High profile imports on Heibei include Serie A veterans Ezequiel Lavezzi and Gervinho, in addition to another big European league veteran in Stephane Mbia. The team has had mixed fortunes since then and is currently in 7th place, having hired Pellegrini in September.
While the Chinese Super League is making efforts to become a serious force, it remains encouraging to see players like Borja and Kalinic sacrifice salary increases to focus their ambitions on Fiorentina. Hopefully the club and its ownership will show a willingness to match their dedication.