Chelsea rejected Oscar offer from China's Jiangsu Suning
LONDON -- Chelsea rejected an offer of £58 million from Chinese Super League club Jiangsu Suning for Brazilian playmaker Oscar, the player's agent has confirmed to ESPN Brasil.
Jiangsu, managed by former Chelsea defender Dan Petrescu, are making their presence felt in the European transfer market and have already paid around £25m to take Ramires from Stamford Bridge, as well as beating Liverpool to the signing of Alex Teixeira from Shakhtar Donetsk in a deal worth £38.5m.
Oscar's agent, Giuliano Bertolucci, told ESPN that Chelsea have turned down a bid from Jiangsu that would have made his client the second-most expensive Brazilian footballer of all time, behind only Barcelona superstar Neymar.
Asked about the Oscar bid in his news conference to preview Sunday's Premier League clash with Manchester United, interim manager Guus Hiddink replied: "Ramires had a great offer [from Jiangsu] and everyone agreed. Oscar is just for me speculation and we don't go into that."
Bertolucci added that having failed to secure Oscar, Jiangsu are now considering a move for Atletico Mineiro striker Jo, currently on loan at Al Shabab in the UAE Pro League, and revealed that the unstable economic situation in Ukraine and Russia has heightened agent interest in moving Brazilian players to China.
Jiangsu are not the only Chinese Super League club luring significant South American talent from Europe. Guangzhou Evergrande secured the signing of Colombia international Jackson Martinez from Atletico Madrid for £31.5m on Wednesday, while Serie A giants Inter Milan sold midfielder Fredy Guarin to Shanghai Shenhua in a deal reported to be worth around £10m in January.
Hiddink believes the rise of Chinese football is no passing phenomenon and insists that the world's most populated country is serious about developing its domestic and grassroots infrastructure in the years to come.
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"It's a concern [for European football]," the Chelsea boss said. "It shows that China is very serious about getting into international football and getting the recognition of the football world.
"Before I came here I had some contacts over there, so I know that they are very keen not just to bring in big money, because it's relatively easy to bring in big money and to buy star players especially from this league or other big leagues, but it's equally important for China and the development of their football to bring in very highly qualified people to educate in how to ground the academies and so on.
"You can't just buy with a lot of money star players and think that you have grounded Chinese football. Basic things are not so popular but I know from their side, even from high-ranking government people, they have a very serious approach towards Chinese football.
"They even want to make it an obligation in Chinese schools. That's a step in the right direction that won't be profitable tomorrow but in the future."
Liam is ESPN FC's Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Liam_Twomey.