Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure has criticised fellow footballers who have traded Europe for China, saying he would prefer to follow Manchester United forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s example and stay in a competitive league.
Chinese Super League clubs have made a number of high-profile recent signings recently, with Shanghai SIPG buying Brazil midfielder Oscar from Chelsea for 60 million euros ($64.46 million).
Their rivals Shanghai Shenhua signed Argentine striker Carlos Tevez for a reported 84 million euros, but Toure said money was not everything to him.
“Do you play football because you love football or do you play because you want to make money? Me, I just want to play football because I enjoy it,” he told British media.
“Some people have the mentality that they want to do that (go to China) – to try something different. But for me, my feeling is that I want to play more football.
“Look at my friend Ibrahimovic. He’s 35 and he’s going to play for maybe three more years? He’s got the same mentality as me. He’s a big player, a champion who loves football. It’s football first. Anything after that is a bonus.”
Toure, who is out of contract in June, was frozen out of City’s squad earlier this season following a spat between the manager Pep Guardiola and the player’s agent, but returned to the team in November after making a public apology.
He has featured regularly ever since, but there is no official word yet on whether he will be offered a new contract at City. His agent revealed last week that he had turned down a 520,000 pounds ($648,900) a week offer to play in China.
“I want to play in Europe, especially in England. I want to continue doing that for a few years yet. I always say that if I went to China I would end up feeling angry there,” the 33-year-old added.