Messi, Ronaldo, RooneyWill play in China – Eriksson

Shanghai SIPG manager Sven Goran Eriksson is predicting that players like Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney could play in the Chinese Super League in the future.

A number of big-name players have signed for Chinese clubs, with Jiangsu Suning paying Chelsea £25 million for Ramires and Shakhtar Donetsk £38.5m for Alex Teixeira, while Guangzhou Evergrande landed Jackson Martinez for £32m.

About whether the top stars could end up in China soon, former England boss Eriksson told Expressen: "Names like Lionel Messi, Ronaldo and Rooney, yes it will probably happen fairly soon those players of that calibre go to a big Chinese club.

"It would be fantastic for football in China if a player like Zlatan [Ibrahimovic] comes here."

Regarding reports of a move for Manchester United striker Rooney, Eriksson -- who has previously indicated his interest in linking up again with the England captain -- said: "Who doesn't want Rooney? But I strongly suspect he doesn't want to leave Manchester United, at least not for the moment."

Eriksson was appointed as Shanghai SIPG boss in November 2014 and he believes the future is bright for football in China.

The 68-year-old said: "The top Chinese clubs can compete with the biggest clubs in Europe today when it comes to transfer fees.

But it's important to understand that the clubs here aren't just focused on big-name stars but are also spending big money on their own youth development.

"What I have experienced here in China over the last couple of years is only the beginning. China will become a big footballing nation. It will happen first at a club level.

"Then the national team, we’ll wait maybe 10 years before they are a big power at international level. The interest is big, it's growing each day.

"Footballing schools are opening up all over the country. But this is not something you can pull off in one night. And this is necessary; grass-roots football in China hasn't been good. Too few have had a chance to play football. But now it's happening rapidly."

On Thursday, United's executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward suggested the club's unwanted footballers could end up in China.

He said: "I do think there will be more activity coming in the summer, but it is very difficult to predict what kind of impact that will have. If nothing else, it's another useful market if we are looking to sell players."

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