Over the weekend, the Chinese Super League made another big splash on the international transfer market when debutantes Dalian Aerbin signed Barcelona midfielder and Malian international Seydou Keita after a series of protracted negotiations between the player and club.
Keita’s contract with Barcelona is up so the player will be coming on a free, with Dalian paying a yearly salary of $4.3 million. The salary isn’t very much different from what the player was earning at Barcelona, but Aerbin was able to attract the player by offering a lengthy two and a half year deal while Barca was only willing to offer a one year deal, with the club holding the option on a second year.
After two straight years of promotion into the next level, Aerbin have found out that playing with the big boys is a lot harder than they expected. While Yu Dabao has served as a solid leader for the team, they are struggling, currently in 11th place on 17 points and only winning three of 16 matches.
China’s going to be an interesting experience for Keita. When he visited Dalian at the end of June to take a look at the city he was considering moving to, he was in for a few surprises. Jinzhou Stadium, and particularly its pitch, were a bit of a shock for him, but the size of his apartment was an equally large adjustment. The player, used to his 1600 square meter house in Barcelona, wasn’t impressed by the 300 square meter apartments he was being shown in Dalian. The difference? The Dalian apartments were ten times more expensive than his Barcelona home.
It’s another “big” signing for the Chinese league, but “stealing” Keita from Barcelona by offering the 32 year old two and a half seasons is a long contract at that age. The salary is a big one, but it’s not over the top and it shows that the league is going to be a real contender for older players.