Ezequiel Lavezzi has completed a sensational move to Chinese Super League side, Hebei China Fortune after agreeing terms that will see the 30-year-old become one of the best paid footballers on the planet. Although Hebei have not officially released the financial details of the transfer, it is understood that Lavezzi has signed a two-year contract that is worth £23.5million after tax.
Lavezzi joined PSG from Napoli for €30million in the summer of 2012 but after the arrival of compatriot Ángel Di María this season, Pocho has found playing time harder to come by. With his contract at the Parc des Princes due to expire in June, talk of a return to Italy with Inter Milan, or a move to the Premier League with Chelsea and Liverpool, had been touted but in the past weeks with the increase in high profile transfers to China, speculation intensified that Lavezzi would be next.
At this stage of his career few can begrudge Lavezzi making such a move when the money being reported is so vast. Two years in China as one of the top five best paid footballers in the world would have been very difficult for a player who turns 31 in May to turn down.
It also represents another coup for Chinese football, as Lavezzi was still a part of Gerardo Martino’s Argentina squad as recently as the last World Cup qualifiers against Brazil and Colombia. Hebei are signing a player who is still able to give a huge amount. Although the club’s declaration on Twitter that Lavezzi is ‘the next Maradona’ are a tad far-fetched, the 48 times capped international should prove an asset on the pitch.
Lavezzi has never been a guaranteed starter for Argentina but different coaches have all seen him as a vital part of the squad. The switch to China will now surely end that relation with the national side and with the competition from the younger players like Paulo Dybala and Ángel Correa only intensifying the battle for selection, it is difficult to see a place at the Copa América for a 31-year-old playing in the Chinese Super League.
A loyal servant to La Albiceleste but it is now time to look forward.