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Tianjin Quanjian offer €40 million for Kalinic

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Or at least that’s the opening salvo of the silly season.

ACF Fiorentina v SSC Napoli - Serie A
€40 million man?
Photo by Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images

We’re still a week away from the official start of the mercato, but that doesn’t mean that the absurd transfer rumors have to wait. Normally, we round these up here, but something of this magnitude probably deserves its own space.

As the headline says, Chinese club Tianjin Quanjian (now managed by Fabio Cannavaro) have offered Fiorentina €40 million for the services of striker Nikola Kalinic. The report comes in from Reppublica.it, which isn’t exactly the most reliable of rags, so there’s ample room for the truth to bend, distend, shimmy, or deviate entirely from the facts stated in the account.

The rumor is, though, that Tianjin have made their offer via third-party representatives (which seems like it could be a violation of UEFA transfer rules, so let’s get excited about that). We recently wrote about the €50 million buyout clause that Pantaleo Corvino inserted into the Croatian international’s contract this summer, but it sounds as if the club is already wondering if they didn’t make the number too high; after initially refusing, Corvino and company are now purportedly thinking about accepting the staggering sum for the late-blooming 28-year-old.

On the other side, though, Paulo Sousa desperately wants to keep the striker around. After all, his prima punta is tied for 8th in Serie A goals and also has an assist. However, with Khouma Babacar waiting in the wings, this may be the best opportunity to cash in on a player who’s not getting any younger and runs very hot and cold.

Whether or not the club agrees to the sale—and the money it would bring for desperately-needed reinforcements—is one conversation. However, it’s another conversation entirely as to whether Nikola would accept a move to the footballing hinterlands of China. Croatia manager Ante Cacic might well look askance at a player plying his trade in the Chinese Super League, even as big names like Oscar and Carlos Tevez make the move for the Croesus-sized paycheck—for Kalinic, it’s rumored to be about €9 million a year. On the other hand, it's mostly been South American and African stars who've made the move to China thus far, as Europeans have looked rather disdainfully on their nouveau riche rivals in the East; Graziano Pelle is the only one who's taken the plunge.

We won’t have any definitive answer on this until New Years Day at the earliest, and any deal would probably take quite a bit longer. Indeed, Reppublica may well be chasing shadows and sunlight again, as they certainly have in the past. But it does at least give us an interesting hypothetical to kick around: were you able, would you sell Nikola Kalinic for €40 million?