Yannick Carrasco eyeing Belgium's World Cup squad despite China move
Belgium international Yannick Carrasco said that his move from Atletico Madrid to Chinese Super League side Dalian Yifang should not affect his hopes of playing at the World Cup this summer.
Atletico confirmed on Monday that Carrasco, 24, has joined Dalian Yifang for a reported fee of €30 million amid reports in Spain that the former Monaco winger had been attracted by a chance to more than double his salary to €10m a year after tax.
Carrasco will be joined at Dalian Yifang by Portugal centre-back Jose Fonte, who is arriving from West Ham United. Argentina international Javier Mascherano moved from Barcelona to Hebei China Fortune last month, and Belgium's Axel Witsel, Brazil's Hulk, Ivory Coast's Gervinho and Argentina's Ezequiel Lavezzi are among the other big names who now play in China.
According to Marca, Carrasco, who has won 22 caps for Belgium, is still planning to show national team coach Roberto Martinez that he is worth calling up despite the distances involved.
"My distance from the continent of Europe does not mean my ambition to participate in the World Cup is less," Carrasco said. "I will make the necessary effort to show to the Belgium national coach that I am ready to take part in the World Cup in Russia this summer with the Red Devils."
Dalian Yifang are also paying a reported €18m to Atletico Madrid for Argentina playmaker Nico Gaitan, 30, and Carrasco said that the close links between Wanda, Dalian Yifang's new backers, and Atletico had helped persuade him to make the move.
"The sporting project of the group has convinced me and motivated my decision," Carrasco said. "The Chinese league is booming, the work conditions are excellent, the new infrastructure is modern for both players and fans and the level of play is improving every year."
Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan