China will struggle to have a top league, Mikel
Professionalism, culture, language make the Chinese Super league far from being a top one
The former Chelsea midfielder said he witnessed ‘culture shock’ during his two years stint in the Chinese league.
John Mikel-Obi claimed that though the Chinese are throwing huge cash to attract players to the league, level of professionalism and the culture would make the league far from being a top one.
Mikel, who has represented Nigeria at all levels, represented Chelsea from 2006 to January of 2017, when he joined Tianjin Teda of China.
Just after two years in the league, Mikel jump the ship back to England, but now in the Championship with Middlesbrough, and although, he said he never regretted the move to China, the two-time Premier League winner posited that the Chinese league was below par.
“It was two years of a huge culture shock, Mikel said via The Telegraph. “The food was a problem, the lifestyle, the style in which everything was done.
“When you have been at a club like Chelsea in the Premier League, for 11 years, it was very hard to adapt to how things were done. It isn’t at the elite level, let’s put it that way.
“The pitches were poor, stadiums are poor, and the medical facilities were not what I was used to. I’m not saying it’s all the Chinese clubs, some of them are quite professional, but the one I was at, it wasn’t as professional as it should have been. It became tough for me almost straight away.
“I wouldn’t say I regretted it, I had a good time with my team-mates, but it was never easy. The standard of football, it’s not even Championship standard. I realised that very quickly. It’s a league that wants to grow, they are putting a lot of money in, but it is a long way behind.
“I think they are going to struggle to get where they want to be. When you look at the MLS, it’s much easier for players like me who have played in Europe at a high level, who speak English, to go there.
“I think the league in America is on the rise, but for me China is a long way behind them. You can only advance so much by throwing money at something and the Chinese contracts are very generous, but it’s still going to struggle to become a top league. Maybe it’s the language, maybe it’s because it can seem quite alien, it’s daunting.”
On if he made a mistake going to the league, he added: “I did wonder if I had made a big mistake. But looking back, I will never say I regret it.