Aaron Mooy makes surprise move to Shanghai SIPG


News broke over the weekend that Australia and Brighton midfielder Aaron Mooy had completed a transfer to Chinese Super League club Shanghai SIPG.

A transfer out of the blue

Mooy made the move to Shanghai and it seemed to catch a lot of people off guard. While reading through the daily transfer rumours, I didn't really see Mooy moving to China being mentioned. When I saw the news I was a bit shocked, but it seems like it is a reaction transfer.

After Brighton made the signing of Adam Lallana, this seems to have set the spiral of events that have led to Mooy leaving Brighton. Not many, however, would have expected him to rock up in Shanghai. 

According to the Athletic, Mooy had a clause in his contract allowing him to sign for clubs in China for four million quid, which indicates that either he knew he had interest from China before moving to Brighton and he certainly didn't want to miss out on a big payday, as it is obvious the ticking clock called age is running down once you hit your thirties, and Mooy being 29 is creeping up to that stage of his career.

After having seen Mooy play against Taiwan, who is obviously a considerable level below the Premier League, I know he is instantly going to be one of the top players in the CSL. He displayed to me during the World Cup qualifiers that he is one of those players who often find space on a pitch while not being the fastest player, and his vision for spraying a pass about the field was second to none. 

A player capable of dictating play. In China where the pressing will be a lot less, this will mean Mooy's passing ability and skill to find space will put his head and shoulders as one of the top players in the league. An astute signing by Shanghai indeed, especially when you add in his unique clause, allowing them to nab him for only four million. 

Why Mooy offers major appeal to Chinese clubs

Mooy does not only offer appeal to Chinese clubs because he is a quality player, who has played at the highest level of the game. One key element of signing Aaron Mooy that will offer the utmost appeal to Chinese clubs is the fact that he is Australian and qualifiers for the allocated Asian foreign player spot in Shanghai's squad.

Very few people in western countries will be aware that the AFC (Asian Football Confederation) has a rule that each team playing in an AFC affiliated league can only play three foreign players. This can be boosted to four players if one of those is from an AFC member country. 

As Australia compete in World Cup qualifiers through the Asian qualifying section, they make Australian players 'Asian' in the eyes of the footballing world, and this is what makes Australian players attractive signings for big Asian clubs throughout Asia, especially in the likes of Japan, Korea and China, and also countries we don't cover much of such as in the Middle East.

Some countries do have a few quirks to the foreign players rule though, like Japan for example where they allow partner country players to play in the league as non-foreigners, or Qatar for example, where an extra foreign player can be added if he originates from a Union of Arab Football Associations (UAFA) member nation, but these additional player rules are country-specific.

Therefore, Aaron Mooy not only appeals to Chinese clubs because he is a good player, but he also attracts intrest because he can occupy a foreign player spot as an AFC allocated foreign player, meaning Shanghai can fill their other spots with non-AFC foreigners. Any way you look at this deal it is a loss for Brighton and a monumental gain for Shanghai SIPG. 

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