Oscar's stunning £52-60m move to China, set to pay him better wages than all but two other players in the world, is inching closer. The truly massive deal, both in terms of the moneys involved and the impact it could make at either Chelsea or SIPG, is only missing a final few bureaucratic details. According to the Independent, these details involve Oscar's image rights as well as logistical concerns such as where he will live in Shanghai.
The only issues yet to be resolved are the sale of his image rights and where he will live in Shanghai. In a city that takes five hours to drive across, that is more important than it seems.
Far more murkier than the gory details are what the various motivations that may be in play are for the involved parties.
For Chelsea and Oscar, the answers are perhaps obvious. For Chelsea, the club record sale would be a massive windfall of cash that would be reinvested in positions of need. As head coach Antonio Conte said, "Oscar is a great player, but..."
For Oscar, we probably don't have to look too far beyond the ridiculous weekly wages (£400k, according to the Times). The move might take him out of the limelight of Europe for at least a short while, but there are plenty of familiar faces (a "support community", as the Independent puts it) in the Chinese Super League by now, including Ramires, who's finishing out his first year in the country after leaving Chelsea last January for Jiangsu Suning as well as SIPG's own Hulk, who apparently wields quite a bit of power at the club. With Chinese rumors in play for the likes of John Terry and Mikel John Obi as well (not to mention two former managers in Big Phil Scolari and AVB), there could soon be a support community made up of just former Blues alone.
But what of SIPG's motivation? Here's where the Independent's report gets interesting and weird. Apparently, as much as you or I or Chelsea themselves were shocked by the massive offer, SIPG themselves could hardly believe it either. It would appear that the club (and their chairman) aren't the ones making this call, but rather the owners, or, more accurately, the owners of the owners -- albeit on advice from that man Hulk.
Part arms race with Shanghai's other big club (Shenhua), part tourism promotion, part PR-exercise, the move would be largely funded by the Shanghai city government themselves. Basically, they asked Hulk for a manger and a teammate, and he provided them with AVB and Oscar.
As majority owners of the Port Authority who fund SIPG who in turn own the football club, the Shanghai government is hoping to use Oscar and signings like him to continue to advertise the city, especially as their Formula 1 contract is expected to end next spring. Oscar is the new Formula 1! Given the ridiculous amounts of moneys that are involved in that silly sport, is it that surprising that the government would be willing to throw near record amounts at Oscar and Chelsea?
China using football to advertise and build their global brand isn't anything new. In fact, it is their stated goal, in no less than 50 points. I guess we could feel bad for Oscar for being the new pawn in this game, but he will be compensated more than fairly for his troubles as the next step in China's plan of global football domination.