Vissel Kobe's Lukas Podolski: Chinese league will never reach top
Lukas Podolski has told Sport Bild the Chinese Super League will never join the elite because what happens behind the scenes is "about anything but football."
Former Germany forward Podolski left Galatasaray for Japanese side Vissel Kobe on a two-year deal last week but had earlier been linked with a move to China.
He is reported to have secured an annual salary of around €10 million a year in Japan and, while he accepts he could have made more in the CSL, he said he had reservations about the way business was being done.
"Sure, it's tempting to hear you could earn €15m to €20m in China, but the way of negotiating -- with eight, nine agents sometimes interfering there -- is close to that of criminals," he said.
The 32-year-old added that while wages in CSL might be higher, "what goes into your account in the end will be significantly less given all the dark channels involved."
Despite a number of high-profile stars moving to China in recent times, Podolski said the league itself will not have a big future if it continues on its current path.
"I like China, I have got many fans there, but the football over there will never achieve something like the Bundesliga for instance," he said. "The way they act right now, they will never achieve their goal to become the best league.
"Just looking at what happens behind the scenes, it's about anything but football."
Stephan Uersfeld is the Germany correspondent for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @uersfeld.