They called him Beckham: When Atletico Yannick Carrasco left China

They called him Beckham: When Atletico Yannick Carrasco left China
They called him Beckham: When Atletico Yannick Carrasco left China

When FC Bayern receives Atletico Madrid for the Champions League opener on Wednesday (9 p.m. in LIVETICKER), then so does Yannick Carrasco. The Belgian winger was the focus of the German record champions three years ago, but surprisingly switched to China. A not entirely voluntary decision, but one that paid off financially.

Leroy Sane, Serge Gnabry, Kingsley Coman and Douglas Costa. “Our outer tracks”, Hasan Salihamidzic used to say these days, “are now well manned”.

The times when those in charge of the quintuple winner from Munich were still desperately looking for new players for the flanks to gradually replace Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery are not that long ago. During the 2017/18 season, for example, when Gnabry stormed on loan for TSG Hoffenheim and not everyone on Säbener Strasse was convinced of their breakthrough, they asked about several players.

A name that, according to information from SPOX and Goal was discussed internally: Yannick Carrasco. A fast, tricky player, tried and tested at the highest international level. And at the age of 24. Arsenal FC was also interested in the Belgian at the time. As is well known, a move to Munich or London did not work for Carrasco. Dalian Yifang, a representative from the Chinese Super League, secured the player’s services for around 30 million euros in February 2018, to everyone’s amazement.

“The Chinese league is booming. The working conditions are fantastic, the players and fans can use a modern infrastructure and the level of play is getting better every season,” said Carrasco after his arrival in Dalian and assured: “I’m here because the project convinces me. “

Carrasco move to China not entirely voluntary

Doubtful words. Of course, the Chinese lured him with a tempting annual salary of ten million euros net. However, it’s no secret that the player’s deal wasn’t entirely voluntary. Wang Jianlin, the head of the Chinese economic conglomerate “Wanda Group”, which is closely associated with Atletico, also acted as the main shareholder in Dalian and was determined to have a new superstar for his team.

It was no coincidence that Carrasco was chosen. The player had a difficult time on Diego Simeone’s team, despite his undisputed technical skills. He was said to not internalize Simeone’s game idea, which is based on a lot of leg work, to train too laxly and in general: to appear too extravagant. The Spanish newspaper The country According to some of his teammates he was called “Beckham” because of his airs.

“It is true that Carrasco’s manner offended some of his teammates and ran into problems,” said the Belgian sports journalist Sacha Tavolieri, who has a close relationship with Carrasco, in an interview SPOX and Goal.

Carrasco: Problems with Atletico leaders

Above all, the ex-captain Gabi, who is now active in Qatar, has often fought several verbal battles with the attacker. “At some point the pressure on Carrasco was too great. Other leading players such as Diego Godin or Koke were not on good terms with him and in the end even Simeone, who had taken him for a long time, tried to sell himself,” said Tavolieri.

The one for the Monegasque radio station RMC Sport active reporters also reported on a generous commission submitted by the China club Carrascos advisor Christophe Henrotay and Jorge Mendes, who acted as an additional mediator in the negotiations. “Carrasco didn’t want this move. He was pressured to do it,” said Tavolieri.

From a financial perspective, the China adventure certainly didn’t hurt him. Nevertheless, Carrasco disappeared from the scene for almost two years, even if he was still regularly invited to the Belgian national team and participated in the 2018 World Cup. During that time he scored 24 goals in 52 games for Dalian.

Carrasco: Brawl in training

But he did not make many friends in the Middle Kingdom. Most of all he remembered a fight in training with his teammate Pengxiang Jin in December 2018. Carrasco broke Jin’s nose with a punch, which prompted him to report him. China’s judiciary allegedly ordered the perpetrator to pay 150,000 euros in pain and suffering and withdrew his passport for a few weeks.

A few months later there was another problem with a teammate – but this time verbally. Ziqian Yu, a goalkeeper, dedicated Carrasco on the social network Weibo a detailed post with serious allegations: “You just stand around during the game, you don’t attack or defend – the atmosphere during training is totally poisoned! No matter how important a player is, he cannot put himself above the team.”

Carrasco responded with several interviews in which he announced that he wanted to return to Europe as soon as possible. Atletico of all people did him this favor in January 2020.

Carrasco uses his second chance at Atletico

Simeone wanted to give him a second chance – initially on loan. Carrasco took advantage of this by joining the changed Atletico team with a new hierarchy right away and showing strong performances, especially after the Corona break, such as the 2-2 win against FC Barcelona at the end of June. “I don’t need to say anything about his footballing quality,” said Simeone. “What I liked about the idea of ​​bringing him back was that he really wanted to prove himself to us again.”

The result: At the beginning of September, “El Cholo” raised his thumb for a firm commitment from the returnee. According to media reports, 27 million euros were due – about as much as the Chinese had transferred to Madrid in 2018. “During my time in Dalian, I became a more mature person,” says Carrasco, who is now 27. His career path could have been different without this dubious transfer – possibly even with an engagement in Munich.

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