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Will anyone take a gamble on bringing China’s best player back to Europe?

Oscar is younger than Eden Hazard and making a mockery of the Chinese Super League... so how long will it be before he returns?

It’s easy to forget that Oscar is six months younger than Eden Hazard.

One is now the best player in the Premier League while the other has faded into obscurity in China.

Because you probably haven’t thought much about the Brazilian attacker recently. I mean, why would you?


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Dynamite duo

Reuters
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Dynamite duo

It’s been nearly 18 months since the 27-year-old shocked the footballing world by joining Shanghai SIPG for £60m.

But he’s making a real splash.

After a fairly torrid start to life in the Far East, which included two missed penalties in one game and an eight-match ban, he’s taken centre stage.

SIPG were crowned Chinese Super League champions last weekend after finally ending Guangzhou Evergrande’s seven-year reign of dominance.

Champions

Getty - Contributor
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Champions

And Oscar was the heartbeat, breaking an 11-year league record by registering a ridiculous 22 assists in 29 appearances.

Considering he also scored 12 times there’s simply no doubt he was the division’s main man, averaging a goal or assist every 76 minutes this season.

Of course his achievements need context.

Take the L

AP:Associated Press
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Take the L

Whilst the Chinese Super League is no walk in the park, even Paulinho – fresh from his brief soiree with Barcelona – racked up 13 goals in 19 appearances after returning to Guangzhou.

But there is a sense that Oscar still has a lot more to give, particularly in Europe.

His January 2017 move was met with derision, lambasted for lacking ambition when some of the biggest clubs in the world were interested.

But can you really blame someone for putting their family before football?

Greeted as a hero in 2017

AFP or licensors
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Greeted as a hero in 2017

Oscar said after joining SIPG: “Every football player, or every person who works, wants to earn money to help their families.

“I came from a social background in Brazil that is very poor. We didn’t have anything.

“This is the fruit of my work and when I earn this, it is because I conquered it.”

Still only 27

Getty - Contributor
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Still only 27

It might be the beautiful game but Oscar rationally recognises how fortunate football has made him and wants to maximise his returns.

He also talked in 2017 of returning to Europe, stating: “I hope that in two or three years’ time – or when my contract here ends and I have helped the team to win titles – I could go back to a big team in Europe.”

So now that he has won a title, what next?

While Chinese-based Brazilians like Paulinho and Renato Augusto have still featured, Oscar hasn’t played for his country in over two years.

A move to a top European side just as he enters his prime years could change that.

Unfinished business?

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Unfinished business?

They’re very different players but Maurizio Sarri is crying out for a Marek Hamsik MK II at Chelsea and Oscar brings that genuine goal threat from midfield.

Atletico Madrid, Juventus and Inter Milan were all circling 18 months ago and you’d imagine his SIPG form won’t have gone unnoticed.

So will anyone take a gamble on the best player you’d completely forgotten about?


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