Sven-Goran Eriksson believes Wayne Rooney would take Chinese football to another level if he were to join his former England manager at Shanghai SIPG after a plot was launched to bring the Manchester United striker to China.
According to The Sun, Chinese Super League chiefs are determined to bring Rooney to the country where he can end his career in a bid to establish the country as a major nation in football.
67-year-old Eriksson is already working in China, and he believes that should Rooney decide to leave the Premier League, China would be the perfect destination for him to expand the global brand of China’s top league.
“Football is becoming huge here and they have very big ambitions for the Chinese Super League,” said Eriksson.
“We already have famous players, like Robinho, Asamoah Gyan and Demba Ba, and they have brought something special.
“But of course Rooney is at another level.
“He is top, top, top — in the same category as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
“Everybody in China knows the superstar players like him. Rooney would take this league to another level, I have no doubt about that.”
Eriksson joined Shanghai in 2014, having already spent two years in China with Guangzhou R&F, and as well as the Swedish former England manager, ex-Italy boss Marcelo Lippi and Luiz Felipe Scolari have tried their hand at football in Asia, having both managed Guangzhou Evergrande.
Eriksson adds that the country itself is “fantastic”, and feels that with football on the up in China, Rooney can be the pivotal cog in taking the game to the next level.
“This is a fantastic country to live in,” Eriksson added.
“I live in Shanghai, and if you asked me to compare it to London, I honestly couldn’t say which was better.
“It is modern, cosmopolitan and has so much energy. Everything you need is here. It is fantastic and would be a great place for him to end his career.
“Football has become much, much bigger even in the time I have been here. I think in the years to come it will be huge and a player like Rooney could help that development.”
However, if a move for Rooney is to go ahead, it will not happen until the end of his current Manchester United contract – which still has three years left to run. By that time, Rooney will be 33 years old, although Eriksson has no worries over whether he will be in decline as he never used speed as a base of his game and has not had too many long-term injuries during his career.
Eriksson said: “Rooney has never had big injuries, so I think he will still be a great player in his mid-thirties.
“He has never relied on speed too much either. He will still have technique, strength, experience, personality.
“Teams from all over the world will try to sign him, I am sure. It would be fantastic if he could come out here to China.”
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