Hulk Breaks Asian Transfer Record for $61,000,000USD

September 19, 2016

Hulk to earn £320,000-a-week with Chinese Super League's Shanghai SIGP after completing medical

Brazil forward Hulk has become the most expensive signing in Asian football with a £46.1m (55.8m euros) move to Chinese Super League side Shanghai SIPG from Zenit St Petersburg.

Shanghai, managed by former England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson, broke the record of £38.4m that Jiangsu Suning paid for compatriot Alex Teixeira.

Hulk, 29, scored 21 goals for Russian side Zenit last season.

Chinese clubs spent almost £200m in the most recent transfer window.

Hulk, who played for three Japanese clubs before moving to Porto in 2008,signed for Zenit for £32m in 2012.

He joins former Sunderland striker Asamoah Gyan at Shanghai.

Runners-up in the CSL last season, Shanghai are currently fourth in the table.

The Chinese Football Association announced plans in March to become a "world football superpower" by 2050.

The national team - 81st in the Fifa rankings- have qualified for the World Cup only once, in 2002.

Eriksson, who coached Guangzhou R&F before joining Shanghai in 2013, has said the league's growth will attract "even bigger names".

Jack Sealy a non-league player jumps from $26 to $13,000 a week in China

September 19, 2016

Meet the former non-league player who jumped from £20 a week to £10k to play in Chinese Super League

Jack Sealy is the only Englishman playing in China alongside ex-Premier League stars

JACK SEALY used to earn £20 a week playing for Bristol Manor Farm in the
Western Football League.

Now the Southampton-born right-back can pocket up to £10,000 each week as the only Englishman in the Chinese Super League.

While the likes of Ramires, Gervinho, Demba Ba, Paulinho and Tim Cahill are
the high-profile former Premier League stars lining their pockets in China .
Sealy has just landed a FIVE-YEAR contract at Changchun Yatai.

His more illustrious counterparts have Chelsea, Arsenal,Tottenham,West Ham, Everton and Newcastle scattered across their CVs.

But 28-year-old Sealy’s resume includes Shortwood Town, Almondsbury UWE and
Pucklechurch Sports. He admitted: “It’s all a far cry from playing in
non-league in England.

“When I used to play for Bristol Manor Farm, they paid me £20 a week . . . but
here in China, if we win a match, I can pick up around £10,000!”

Not bad for a player who struggled to make a career in non-league football. He
added: “I’m a bit of a late bloomer.

“I used to play as an attacking right winger in non-league but they’re playing
me at right-back here, probably to keep me out of the way!

“I came up against Tim Cahill recently and he drifted out to my flank because
he worked out he could beat me every time in the air.

“Plus being an Aussie, he just loved the idea of getting one over a Pom and we
had some proper Ashes-style banter.”

Sealy actually comes from good football stock. His dad Tony, 56, was a
well-travelled striker who played for Leicester, Southampton, Crystal
Palace, Bournemouth, QPR, Fulham, Sporting Lisbon and Braga in the late 1970s
and 1980s.

He moved the family to Hong Kong in 1992. Sealy said: “I was just five when my
dad signed a six-week contract to play for Sun Hei and he’s been there ever

“I grew up in Hong Kong but returned to the UK to study at the University of
West England in Bristol and played for them too.

“I even had trials for the England university side but didn’t cut it.

“I managed to play in non-league but not at a very high standard.

“However when I returned to Hong Kong after uni, it all started to snowball —
and I got signed as a professional for Sun Hei and played for South China.
And because I had grown up in Hong Kong and lived there for so long, I was
able to obtain a Hong Kong passport and played for the national team.”

In the Chinese Super League each club is limited to five overseas players, one
of which must be Asian.

Yet until January Hong Kong nationals counted as home players so Sealy decided
to take advantage by signing for Changchun.

He said: “It was a now-or-never opportunity.

“The Chinese weren’t happy that Hong Kong had done well against them in recent
matches so changed our status to ‘foreign’ players.

“But there was a loophole in that if you were signed by January, you would
count as a Chinese player — so I took the plunge because I don’t think I
would have had a chance of getting a contract if I counted as a foreign
player with the calibre of stars they’re recruiting.

“It’s absolutely mad to think I am playing in a league with all these star
players and have a five-year contract.

“I’ve been buzzing and all my friends can’t believe I’m playing out here.

“Everyone was telling me the players I’d be up against and how silly they were
going to make me look! The whole world now is aware of the Chinese Super
League because the big-money signings they’re making has raised its profile
all over the world.”

It has been a learning curve for Sealy — although nothing has shocked him in
terms of the culture because of his Asian background.

He said: “You do get a lot of people who clear their throats and literally
spit on the floor all around you.

“To foreigners, that’s pretty disgusting — but it’s just part of the culture
even though it does shock people who come for the first time.



Foreign players considered heroes in Indian League

September 19, 2016

Why foreign footballers are big in Calcutta

Edeh Chidi may not be known in his native Nigeria, but in the eastern Indian city of Calcutta, he is a hero.

Calcutta loves football, and it adores its foreign players.

Recently Chidi, who plays for East Bengal, tasted fans' adulation after scoring a brace against arch rivals Mohun Bagan.

"The feeling's incredible. You receive a lot of gifts, chanting of names and autograph requests," says the Lagos-born striker.

But what brought him to Calcutta from football-rich Nigeria?

"I knew nothing about Calcutta football. I came here when I was 15 straight from the Pepsi Academy in Nigeria."

Chidi, 25, has never played professional football in Nigeria. "You play wherever you can. My agent approached me just when I graduated from the academy and I came here."

India, ranked 150 in the world by football's governing body Fifa, is not exactly the first choice for Nigerian players. But Calcutta fans love them for their skills and their physical dominance on the pitch.

For Chidi, adjusting to life in the city was difficult initially "with people, food and language being different", but now he feels "completely at home".

Nigerians dominate the 19-club Calcutta premier league, which began in 1898 and is the oldest in Asia.

Ranti Martins of Prayag United and Odafa Okolie of Mohun Bagan have been the two top scorers this year.

There are about 40 foreign players in the top league, many of whom have come from South Sudan, Australia, Brazil, Portugal and Japan.

Foreign players are also to be found in the seven-tier league's lower divisions.


Australian Andrew Barisi - Chidi's team-mate - came to Calcutta in January after playing in Indonesia for two years. Like many other foreign players, he knew nothing about the 115-year-old history of Calcutta football.

So why did he choose Calcutta?

"You can say football might be better in Indonesia in terms of quality but everything off the field is shocking over there. There's so much politics. So the plan was to move forward, and with Indian football there's a lot to move forward to," he says.

"As a foreigner I thought it would be a lot harder here than all the places I have been to, such as Germany, Indonesia and Croatia. But from the first week everyone's been amazing to me," he adds.

For years, Calcutta was the place to earn fame and fortune for those foreign players who failed to break into their national teams or those who came here very young.

Brazilian Jose Ramirez Barreto was barely out of his teens when he was cajoled into joining Mohun Bagan in 1999. "I learned Mohun Bagan needed a forward and a Calcutta player from my country recommended me to them," he says. "Over the years, I have realised how big the club is and how old the city football culture is."

Football hub

He left the club briefly but the fans' adoration and "love for Calcutta" was a big pull that brought him back to the city. Talking about his status in the club history, he says modestly: "They loved me and I loved them. It was an exchange."

Barreto says foreign players come to Calcutta because it is a football hub, and the fans have a great passion for the game.

But in recent years, clubs from Goa, Mumbai and Pune have caught up with Calcutta and today these clubs have players and coaches from Australia, Japan, Gabon, Lebanon and Sudan, as well as Nigeria and Brazil.

Barreto believes that football has become a level playing field. "In the past, Calcutta could buy the best home-grown talent from across the country and buy odd foreign players. Now, all clubs are buying good domestic and foreign players."

This broke Calcutta football's dominance in terms of winning trophies and tournaments. Since its inception in 2007, the 15-team I-League - the Indian equivalent of the English Premier League - has never been won by a Calcutta club.

There are currently five teams from Calcutta, competing with sides from all over India, as well as in their local league.

The I-League teams together have more than 40 foreigners; but teams from Goa - with players and coaches from Brazil, Portugal, Morocco and Nigeria - have dominated, winning the league every year.

The All India Football Federation allows a club to register up to four foreign players (including one Asian) and today, a foreign player can command up to $400,000 (£255,000) - a sum affordable for most football clubs.

Clubs from Calcutta may have lost their supremacy in Indian football. But the city's passion for football and love for players, especially foreigners, remains undiminished.

Iranians Majid Baskar and Jamshed Nasiri and Nigerian Chima Okerie are some of the legends still revered in the city. Swapan Ball, who has been the East Bengal manager since 1998, calls Baskar "the best ever foreign import in India".

Baskar went back to Iran, but Nasiri made the city home. He and Okerie, who divides his time between England and Calcutta, married locally and have developed deep roots here.

Nasiri's love for Calcutta is well-known in the city: "This is my home now. People here are cultured. They love sport and have great sportsmanship spirit."

But has the Calcutta fan's love for football helped improve the quality of the game in India? Football writer with the Hindustan Times newspaper Dhiman Sarkar does not think so.

"The standard has stayed pretty much the same. Yes, in the 1970s we had more football heroes, but then we didn't get to see Arsenal play Liverpool [on television]. The only benchmark that I see is how we did internationally then, and how we do it now, and I think the answer is pretty much the same. We are as good - or bad - now as we were then."


35-year-old Luis Fabiano signs contract worth 146,000 USD monthly in Chinese Second Division

September 19, 2016

35-year-old Luis Fabiano scores twice on debut in the Chinese 2nd tier for Tianjin Quanjian

The incredible trend of foreign imports scoring on the Chinese league debuts continued on Sunday in the second division.

Now 35-year-old, former Brazilian international striker Luis Fabiano recently joined Tianjin Quanjian in a shock move.

According to reports, Fabiano is on €130,000 euros a month.

On Sunday, against Qingdao Huanghai on his debut, the experienced pro took advantage of appalling defending to find the target after a right wing cross.

Later in the half, Fabiano bagged a second too.

Watch both goals below.

China’s goal to score some top soccer talent from the West

August 09, 2016

China’s goal to score some top soccer talent from the West

Manchester United today completed the transfer of French player Paul Pogba from Juventus for a record-breaking transfer fee of £89 million ($115.5 million). But in recent months, European soccer clubs have had to tackle a new player in the international transfer market: China.

Investment on new soccer stars from teams in China's domestic Super League (CSL) is on the rise, with top foreign players being offered eye-watering sums to uproot and join clubs in the Middle Kingdom. In this industry at least, China seems to be paying considerable attention to importing, rather than exporting.

According to Deloitte's Annual Review of Football Finance, published in June 2016, China's "commitment to football has triggered investment of c.£200 million in playing talent by Chinese Super League Clubs in the 2016 winter transfer window." This is more than any other country. During transfer season earlier this year, CSL signings broke Asian records three times in 10 days.

Top players moving eastwards

The CSL had been seen as a well-paid retirement home for older stars. However that has all changed.

"Recently, China has been attracting a different caliber of players who are significantly younger than before. Chinese clubs have also been signing players with many international caps, like (Brazilian soccer star) Ramires," says Kevin Alavy, managing director of Futures Sport + Entertainment told CNBC over the phone.

Shanghai SIPG signed Brazilian soccer player Givanildo Vieira de Sousa – more commonly known as Hulk – at the end of June for $61 million. Previously playing for Zenit St Petersburg, Hulk's move makes him the most expensive signing in Asian soccer. Other hot recent acquisitions include Alex Teixeira by Jiangsu Suning for $55 million; Jackson Martinez by Guangzhou Evergrande for $47 million; and Ramieres by Jiangsu Suning again for $29.7 million, according to figures compiled by the Financial Times.

Sky-rocketing salaries are a key attraction. The Independent reported in July that four of the world's top 10 highest paid soccer players are from Chinese clubs. Hulk is set to earn £16.5 million per year, making him the world's third highest played soccer player, trailing only to Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. Other names on the list include Graziano Pelle at Shandong Luneng earning £12.5 million; Ezequiel Lavezzi at Hebai China Fortune earning £10.5m; and Jackson Martinez at Guangzhou earning £10m.

Notably, only five overseas players are allowed per team in the CSL, permitting the vast sums of money offered to attract big name players.

Alavy says, "top players signed are often attackers. They tend to be higher profile, as the positions are more glamorous. A top striker can make a difference quickly."

With regards to domestic interest, Alavy suggests that, "Chinese fans prefer domestic talent. But more important is a team's success. Overseas talent makes teams stronger, so it's a price worth paying to see success." He also explains that higher quality players spur on motivated teammates to learn from them technically.

Chinese Premier League continue spending spree on foreign players

July 12, 2016

Graziano Pelle moves to become the fifth highest-paid player in the world... so, where will the crazy Chinese spending stop?

When the leader of China puts his weight behind something, the rest of the world tends to take notice.

President Xi Jinping is supporting plans to make his country a football superpower which is why unprecedented sums have already been spent on Jackson Martinez, Graziano Pelle and Hulk.

The big question now is how long before Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi or even the next generation of superstars such as Antoine Griezmann become realistic targets?

Graziano Pelle has joined Shandong Luneng in a £13million deal despite interest from Chelsea and Everton

The ex-Southampton star (left) was given a rapturous reception by Shandong Luneng supporters on Tuesday

When things happen in China, population 1.4billion, they move fast. In 2014, Sven Goran Eriksson was chasing Shola Ameobi for his club at the time, Guangzhou R&F. Fast forward two years and his new club Shanghai SIPG have just splashed out £46million on Brazilian striker Hulk from Zenit St Petersburg.

For heading east, Hulk will earn £340,000-a-week, a salary bettered only by Messi and Ronaldo. Ditto other recent imports Alex Teixeira, Martinez, Ezequiel Lavezzi, Ramires, Papiss Cisse, Gervinho, Asamoah Gyan, Pelle and Demba Ba, who are all earning fortunes.

Pelle's move to Shandong Luneng from Southampton has catapulted his earnings to an estimated £13.5million-a-year, more than any Premier League player bar Zlatan Ibrahimovic at Manchester United who is only on a one-year contract.

With the Chinese season running from April to November, this is their shorter transfer window, and runs out on Friday. But looking further ahead, agent Emanuele Palladino who helped broker the Cisse deal from Newcastle to Shandong Luneng thinks they may only be the start.

'It has really taken off in the last year,' says Palladino. 'China wants to be seen as a force in football and the way they do that is to spend money. They hope to inspire future generations and ultimately the goal is to make the Chinese national team a force.

'If an overseas player goes to China, you try to make sure they are aware of the cultural differences and they will have their family and friends around them. After that the decision is for them to make.

Pelle was greeted by jubilant fans after landing in China following his £13million arrival from Southampton

The 30-year-old made 81 appearances during two successful campaigns with the Saints, scoring 30 goals


1. Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) - £18m per year

2. Lionel Messi (Barcelona) - £17m per year

3. Hulk (Shanghai SIPG) - £17m per year

4. Neymar (Barcelona) - £16.2m per year

5. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Manchester United) - £13.6m per year

=5. Graziano Pelle (Shandong Luneng) - £13.6m per year

'It is a very exciting market. There are limitless opportunities and it's just the start of the journey. The financial rewards for players are huge.'

For certain, the Chinese Super League can no longer be taken as a joke. Blighted at one time by corruption scandals and failed experiments like Didier Drogba and Nicholas Anelka, the establishment have decided to make it work. And in China they usually can. The impact already seems to have had an inflationary impact elsewhere, including England.

For Pelle, who shortly turns 31, being recruited by Shandong will feel like winning the lottery every month. But for top European leagues, it's the sight of younger ones heading east that raises longer-term concerns.

Brazilian Alex Teixeira is only 26 but was happy to sign for Jiangsu Suning in a £38million move from Shakhtar Donetsk earlier this year when Liverpool wanted him at Anfield.

Even someone as wealthy as Roman Abramovich couldn't say no when Jiangsu offered £25million for Ramires in January, even though Chelsea were clearly short of strength in depth in their squad.

Hulk will earn £340,000-a-week at Shanghai SIPG, a salary bettered only by Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo

Ex-Chelsea midfielder Ramires (left) and Ezequiel Lavezzi (right) are two high-profile names to move to China

Chinese clubs have already fluttered their eyelids at Wayne Rooney and John Terry, knowing the presence of two of England's Golden Generation would raise the Super League's profile even higher.

Both have said no so far, and that may be partly due to the reluctance of English players generally to venture far from home. Certainly overseas stars are brought up at an earlier age learning new languages, let alone different cultures.

The standard of Chinese football has not be high to date. Their only appearance at a World Cup finals came in 2002 when they lost all three group games without scoring a goal.

However, things are set to change quickly, starting at club level. Attendances in the 16-team Super League have doubled to 22,000 since 2004.

Didier Drogba moved to Shanghai Shenhua in 2012 but the Chelsea legend's spell in China didn't last long

Chinese clubs have already fluttered their eyelids at Wayne Rooney, who has decided to remain in England

Champions and current league leaders Guangzhou Evergrande are best supported with average crowds of 45,000 and have won the last five league titles, and the Asian Champions League in 2015 though they are out of this year's competition. Evergrande only seem to put World Cup-winning managers in charge; first Marcello Lippi and currently Felipe Scolari.

Other clubs want to catch them up. 'China wants to be the biggest and best in most things and football is no different,' says Eriksson emphatically.

Chinese clubs spent £208million in the January window – more than the Premier League - and the wages and transfer fees have increased again.

Australian veteran Tim Cahill, who has played in four continents, is on his second club in China. 'The support here is fanatical. There are 20million people in Shanghai and everywhere you go in the streets all they talk about is football,' he says.



Why so many good foreign players are coming to China

February 05, 2016

Why are so many good footballers moving to China?

How come so many top players are suddenly moving to the Chinese Super League and does anyone actually watch them once they arrive? Here are all the answers you need to know about the new footballing superpower

What is going on?

It won't have slipped your notice that money talks in the world of football and there is a new kid on the block when it comes to splashing the cash.

Over the course of the past couple of weeks Jackson Martinez, Ramires and Alex Teixeira have all moved to the Chinese Super League for a combined total of £90million.

While big names joining clubs outside Europe is nothing new, the key difference between the current crop heading to China and those packing their bags for places like America or the Middle East is that Martinez, Ramires and Teixeira are far from ageing stars.

All three of them had either been linked with or were playing for the best clubs in the Premier League before being tempted east by greater riches.

In the words of Arsene Wenger, European football should be “worried” about China.

Why is it happening?

In a nutshell: because the state wants it to.

Never one to turn a blind eye to a useful tool for propaganda, the most powerful people in China have recently identified football as a major growth region - a way to show their country's sporting might on a truly global platform, while also creating a relatively fresh industry to tap into China's consumer culture.

The slight fly in the ointment is that the Chinese football team is not very good.

The national team have qualified for just one World Cup finals in 2002 and - currently ranked one spot below Botswana in 93rd position in the Fifa rankings - they are already struggling to make it to Russia in 2018. Yet China is set on hosting a World Cup in the not too distant future. So the question is how can the reality match the vision?

On the one hand, President Xi Jinping has called for a huge transformation of grassroots football in China, visiting Manchester City’s new training complex during his state visit in October in a bid to underline his commitment to the sport.

A number of schemes have been put in place to increase participation in football among young people, which has captured the attention of local government officials who are increasingly aware of an impending health crisis over growing levels of obesity in the country.

On the other hand Xi wants (and needs) to boost the profile of his country's top-flight football league. And that is where money comes in.

Encouraged by Xi’s plan for state and private investment to double the size of the Chinese sporting economy by 2025, more global sporting figures are increasing their links with China.

Jose Mourinho was in Shanghai last month with his agent Jorge Mendes, who is understood to have sold a significant stake in his Gestifute business to a Chinese investor. Elsewhere, Manchester City owner Sheikh Mansour has sold a 13 per cent stake in his £2billion football business to investors from the emerging superpower in the form of China Media Capital.

Indeed with Chinese investors already in control of a number of European clubs including Slavia Prague in the Czech Republic and French club Sochaux, it seems only a matter of time until a Premier League club goes the same way.

The key in all of this investment is the link between private corporations and the state. The £265million private investment in Manchester City was state-backed, as is the overwhelming majority of footballing spending in the country. Powerful people have cash to burn, Xi has identified football as an area to spend it in and the result is a lot of money changing hands internationally.

As Chinese football expert Chris Atkins told Sky Sports: "The Government is keen to establish a more balanced economy based upon more than just manufacturing, with sports and entertainment industries seen as areas for investment. In China, companies are reliant on good relationships with the authorities and therefore are often inclined to help with initiatives seen as in the national interest."

As discussed by Sam Wallace in his piece on China's economic powerhouse spreading its footballing reach, the coach of the Brazilian champions Corinthians, Tite, was frank about his club’s defence of their 2015 Brasileirão Serie A title, which has seen them sell four of their leading players to Chinese Super League clubs.

“China screwed us,” said Tite. “Keeping big players raises the standard but, unfortunately the reality for us has been different.”

There are around 25 top Brazilians currently in the Chinese top-flight alone, as well as Luiz Felipe Scolari, coach of last season’s national side. Mano Menezes, another former Brazil national team coach, is in charge of Shandong Luneng, while a third former Brazil coach, Vanderlei Luxemburgo, manages Tianjin Quanjian in the second division.

However, the major change over the past six months has been the shift from signing relatively unknown Brazilians from South American clubs to attracting high-profile names from leading European sides. If Chinese clubs have their way the likes of Martinez, Teixeira and Ramires will be just the tip of the iceberg with Chelsea believed to have turned down an incredible £75million offer from Jiangsu Suning for Oscar.

Jiangsu are also thought to be planning a move for Yaya Toure at the end of this season and are prepared to pay an astonishing £30million-a-year for the Ivorian in wages.

What is life like in Chinese football?

The president's sudden interest in boosting the profile of the Chinese Super League is not currently matched by the country's masses, but that is not say that changes are not sweeping in. As is the case in the majority of "lesser footballing nations" around the world, interest in the big foreign leagues far outweighs that of the local top flight.

"Football is on the TV all the time here, not just the Premier League or the Champions League, but all the European leagues," says Shanghai SIPG manager Sven Goran Eriksson.

But while European football is king, any impression that Chinese top flight games are played in soulless, empty stadiums would be incorrect.

The league's average attendance last season stood at around 22,000 (a 17 per cent increase on the previous season), with targets to double that number over the course of the next decade.

The reach of the Chinese Super League is almost certain to grow further thanks to a new bumper television deal. While last year Chinese broadcasters paid just US$9m to show local league games, that figure has risen a quite remarkable amount this season after China Media Capital (those folks of Manchester City state-backed investment fame) outbid state broadcaster CCTV to pay US$1.2 billion for the television rights over the next five years.

On the field there are a number of rules in place to promote growth among Chinese players. All goalkeepers in the top flight must be Chinese and there can be no more than three foreign players, plus one from other countries affiliated to the Asian Football Confederation, on the pitch at any one time.

Where could this end?

Jason Burt reports that when asked on Friday morning whether the European leagues should be worried about China's willingness to spend such vast amounts of money, Wenger replied: “Yes, of course, because China looks to have the financial power to move the whole game to China. We know it’s just a consequence of economic power and they have that.

“Will they sustain their desire to do it? Let’s remember a few years ago Japan [where Wenger coached before moving to Arsenal] started to do it and they slowed down. I don’t know how deep the desire in China is now but it’s a very deep political desire then we should be worried.”

With an £8billion Premier League television rights deal soon kicking in, Wenger has also predicted that Chinese spending could have a significant impact on transfer fees and wages.

“Inflation is on our door,” he said. “The next TV deal will move up again transfer prices and soon the £100m target will be easy to reach.”

Indeed if Oscar is worth £75million then it is easy to imagine a Chinese club offering enormous figures for all manner of top-class players this summer. China could well be at the forefront of a footballing revolution.

Pennant to be Highest Paid Player in S. League

January 13, 2016

The former Liverpool winger will sign for Tampines Rovers and be the highest paid player in the S.League, drawing S$62,400 per month.

Jermaine Pennant has agreed to take a 70 per cent pay cut and sign for Tampines Rovers.

It was initially revealed that he was earning £25,000 (S$52,000) a week at Wigan, but with the Stags, he will be drawing about S$62,400 per month.

The Englishman told TODAY that his decision to sign for the Stags is not all about the money.

“There are other things here in Singapore that I value much more than money,” the 32-year-old told the daily.

“I knew before I flew here I would have to take a big pay cut, but you must look at the bigger picture.

“If you do well for the S.League and Singapore football, you will be rewarded in different ways and, in the long run, it may be a no per cent pay cut,” Pennant said.

Outside of football, the ex-Liverpool man has his sights set on his family and has indicated that he wants to settle down in Singapore.

Pennant added: “The culture [in Singapore] is good and very relaxed. Plus there’s nothing to worry about [in terms of safety and security] and there are no language barriers here as most Singaporeans speak English. I have heard the education system here is great. You drive on the right side too… Everything is great.”

According to the report, Pennant will confirm the deal within the next two days despite receiving calls from South Korea, Australia and Malaysia.

“The minute I got here, it was in the media and a few teams from South Korea, Australia and Malaysia got in touch,” he said.

“In fact, they offered much more than what I could possibly get here in Singapore.”

Nevertheless, the general manager of Tampines Rovers Desmund Khusnin affirmed that the deal is close to being sealed.

Pennant’s weeklong trial will end on 14 January.

He was featured in friendly game for the Stags against Hougang United, in which he played for 45 minutes and provided an assist for his side’s second goal.

Tampines won that game 2-0.