By Robson Sharuko
Belgian World Cup star Yannick Carrasco, who formed a good partnership with Zimbabwe international forward Nyasha Mushekwi in the Chinese Super League last season, could today seal a multi-million-dollar switch from Dalian Yifang to English giants Arsenal.
If the deal sails through, despite concerns there might not be enough time for it to be completed, it could be yet another demonstration by the Chinese Super League that it has a lot of gems in its stable.
Sky Italia and numerous media reports in the United Kingdom revealed yesterday that talks were underway between the Gunners and representatives of the 25-year-old Belgian World Cup star to bring him to London to play in the English Premiership.
Arsenal are believed to have turned to Carrasco after failing to lure another 2018 World Cup star, Ivan Perisic, who tried to engineer a move from Italian powerhouse Inter Milan earlier this week.
The Serie A side rejected numerous attempts by the Gunners to take Perisic, initially on loan, with a view to sealing a permanent deal for the winger who was one of the stand-out players for his country as they reached the final of the 2018 World Cup.
And, according to several reports, Arsenal are now trying to get Carrasco who moved to the Chinese Super League from Spanish side Atletico Madrid in February last year in a deal that also took Argentine midfielder Nicolas Gaitan to Dalian Yifang.
The Carrasco deal was worth about $30 million with the Belgian star earning $9 million a year for his stint in the Chinese Super League.
Carrasco made 25 appearances for Dalian Yifang, scored seven goals and provided five assists, including providing Mushekwi with some of the opportunities that resulted in the Zimbabwean forward scoring 15 goals, the best return for his club last year.
The Belgian star formed a good combination with Mushekwi and the duo played a massive role in helping Yifang find a way to successfully secure their place in the Chinese Super League for another season.
That Carrasco is even attracting the interests of a club like Arsenal also silences the voices of the critics, including a number on the domestic front, who have been questioning the quality of the Chinese Super League and dismissing it as a retirement zone.
The same critics have repeatedly questioned if Mushekwi still deserves a place in the Warriors, arguing he isn’t playing at a high level to warrant a guarantee in the team, claiming the Chinese Super League doesn’t fit their description of a very competitive league.
That a player like Carrasco could even come from there, and play an influential role for Belgium in their successful 2018 World Cup campaign, appears to have done very little to silence their voices.
Even when Brazilian midfielder Paulinho moved straight into the Barcelona starting XI and Belgian star Axel Witsel sealed a $23 million from Tianjin Quanjian to German giants Borussia Dortmund after last year’s World Cup finals, it didn’t convince these critics that there is quality in the Chinese Super League.
Now, it appears, another star of that league could be on his way to Arsenal before the transfer window closes today.
Carrasco’s agent, Christophe Henrotay, said although it will be ‘’difficult’’ to complete the player’s move at this late hour, he could not rule out anything.
‘’Everything is possible,’’ he told Radio Rossonera.
‘’But it seems difficult to do so because it would be decisive and rapid movement by the interested clubs involved to discuss and deal with the current club of Carrasco.’’
He also discussed the issue with Inter Dipendenza.
“There’s plenty of interest in Yannick from all over Europe because his family are having problems adapting to China,” Henrotay said.
“He’s concerned about his family, which is completely normal. He has a lot of respect for his current club, Dalian, because he loves them and because they’re a great team with a lot of history.
“He wants to be honest with them, and it’s for this reason that he’s talked to the club, informing them that he isn’t 100 percent focused because of his family’s difficulties.
“Yannick’s very focused on working, but for his family it’s different. He has too much respect for the club not to tell them.
“There’s the possibility that Dalian reward this honesty and talk to the clubs interested in him.”
There were reports late yesterday that Italian giants AC Milan have also joined the race to try and secure the signature of Carrasco at this late hour.
Arsenal manager Unai Emery has been saying they could bring in a player or two.
‘’When we have the possibility to buy different players with big quality to help us with their performance, we can do that,’’ Emery told the British media this week.
‘’At the moment though the club is telling me this is not a good moment to buy new players.
‘’But the club say to me in the summer it is going to be different. And we are going to have chances to take and spend money to buy players.
‘’If we look at the other teams in this transfer market, it is very difficult for them. Only Chelsea have signed somebody, with (Gonzalo) Higuain changing with (Alvaro) Morata.’’
The massive interest in Carrasco also shows that Mushekwi has been playing alongside quality players, which he credits for the way he exploded in his first season in the Chinese Super League, at Dalian Yifang.
After being ignored from the first team, following the arrival of Carrasco and Gaitan, at the beginning of last season, Mushekwi returned with a bang as scored a number of goals which were crucial in helping his team retain their place in the Chinese Super league. The Herald