A return home for Socceroos star Tim Cahill appears to be off the cards after the veteran striker opted to remain in China after being dumped by Shanghai Shenhua.
Australia's all-time leading goal scorer had his contract with Shanghai Shenhua terminated by mutual consent on Tuesday, fuelling suggestions he could move to the A-League as a marquee player. However, Cahill's agent quashed talk of a move to Australia despite his abrupt departure from Shanghai, confirming the player is looking to join a rival Chinese Super League club.
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Fairfax Media understands Cahill could join fellow national team player Matthew Spiranovic at Hangzhou Greentown having already begun talks to sign with the club for a one-year deal. Reports from China suggest Cahill was paid a US$4 million severance fee by Shenhua and agent Ante Alilovic says Cahill's preference is to remain in China where he still has options outside of the European and Australian transfer windows.
"He will stay in China. I'm in Asia now and will be with him in two days to discuss potential deals [and] there are a few interested clubs," Alilovic told AAP.
The news is a blow to fans eager to watch the striker play regularly in Australia but competition regulations would have made it impossible for him to play in this season's A-League. As Cahill was contracted to Shanghai Shenhua at the close of the Australian transfer window on February 2, he is not eligible to move to Australia despite being uncontracted as a free agent.
Sources suggest Cahill's representatives made his availability known to at least two A-League clubs but his asking price made it an unaffordable option.
Despite signing a new contract with Shanghai in November, Cahill was told he was surplus to requirements at the club following a training camp in Spain where sources suggest he failed to impress new coach Gregorio Manzano.
The decision was said to be made following that training camp where the Shanghai coach was unimpressed by the Australian's performances and looked to take advantage of using the club's funds to sign another high-profile foreigner. Shanghai are understood to have made Cahill available for loan but after failing to finalise a deal, offered him an opportunity to terminate his deal.
Club officials landed in USA on Monday to open talks with Seattle Sounders to sign Nigerian striker Obafemi Martins who is emerging as the favourite to replace Cahill as their final foreigner. Should he sign, Australian-born Greek international Avraam Papadopoulos will be registered as their new Asian-visa player.
The incredible expenditure by Chinese football clubs ceases to slow down in February with yet another high profile star joining the cashed-up competition. Argentinian international Ezequiel Lavezzi left Paris Saint Germain to join Hebei Fortune where he stands to earn $47 million after tax over the course of his two-year deal.
The 30-year-old forward opted to move to China in favour of signing with English Premier League giants Chelsea who were reportedly in talks to sign him on a free transfer during the European summer transfer window.