Italian forward Graziano Pellè has completed his move from English Premier League side Southampton to Chinese top flight football club, Shandong Luneng in the summer transfer window, nine days after Italy were knocked out of the European Football Championships by Germany in the quarter finals in France.
Southampton FC confirmed Pellè’s exit from the club on Monday for an undisclosed fee but it was later released that the move was for a reported total of £13 million. Over the next two years and a half years, the soon to be 31 year old is expected to earn £34 million, over £260, 000 a week. This places him as the sixth highest paid footballer, knocking Wayne Rooney out of the top 10 highest-paid list. In doing so he also becomes the highest paid Italian footballer.
Top10 best paid
1 CR7 21m€
2 Messi 20
3 Hulk 20
4 Neymar 19
5 Ibra 16
6 Pellé 16
7 TMüller 13.5
9 JacksonM. 12.5
10 TSilva 12
— Tancredi Palmeri (@tancredipalmeri) July 11, 2016
In March, Pelle did claim that he wanted to remain at the south-side club with whom he had a contract until the end of next season despite Italian Serie A clubs Juventus and Lazio wanting to snatch the 30 year old.
“I’ve never spoken about going away but there have been voices from journalists. It’s nice to hear, it means you’re doing something well but I never really thought of going anywhere else while I’m contracted to Southampton. I’m not that stupid to hope to go away. The Premier League is the best competition and Southampton is a really good club to settle in.”
However, four months later, he has now departed the club and away from the Premier League.
After moving to Southampton for a transfer fee of £8 million from Dutch Eredivisie team Feyenoord in July 2014, the 30 year old scored 30 goals in 81 appearances for his previous English side, helping them finish sixth in the 15/16 English Premier League season. With Shandong Luneng currently 15th in the 16 team Chinese Super League, Pellè’s new employers will be hoping that he can help the side move up the table.
Pellè’s transfer is also hoping to boost the profile of Shandong Luneng which currently boasts a mere 1000 Twitter followers compared to that of Southampton’s 585, 300.
The move means the Saints have a £5 million profit following his transfer two years ago from Feyenoord. The striker had one year to go on his three year contract at the south-side club but a move away from the club was highly anticipated, with other clubs such as Chelsea, Everton and his eventual club, Shandong Luneng having all shown a high interest in signing him.
In choosing the Chinese outfit, Pellè claimed:
“I am delighted to have signed for Shandong Luneng and I can’t wait to start a new chapter in my career. It has always been a dream of mine to play in China and today that dream came true.
I grew up watching the Chinese Super League as a kid, so I am over the moon to finally get the chance to play here.”
— Shandong Luneng (@sdlnts1993) July 11, 2016
Pellè is the third player to leave the Saints this summer, after midfielder Victor Wanyama joined Tottenham and Liverpool signed forward Sadio Mane. Danish midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg has signed with the club from German side Bayern Munich on a five year deal for an undisclosed fee following Pellè’s exit. The club have also recently signed Norwich City’s Nathan Redmond on a five year contract for an estimated £10 million and Charlie Austin from Queens Park Rangers in January for a reported sum of £4 million.
Pellè’s ex-club issued the following statement after his departure:
“Everyone at Southampton would like to thank Graziano for his efforts during his time at St Mary’s and wish him well for the future.”
Pellè has now joined the growing list of players who have left the English Premier League for a Chinese side, with Didier Drogba as one of the the most notable. Fomer Newcastle forward, Papiss Cissé will play alongside the 30 year old Italian in the side lead by ex-Fulham manager, Felix Magath.
— Graziano Pellè (@GPelle19) July 12, 2016
Fans on Twitter have reacted to the Italian’s move away from the Saints. Many showed strong feelings of support while others were more critical in his decision.
@GPelle19 good luck in big guy China, goodbye from Chilbolton Avenue in Winchester. Some great goals for Saints. You'll miss Waitrose!
— Stuart Campbell (@StuartC_doworry) July 11, 2016
— Cam Streeter (@CameronSFC) July 11, 2016
— Hebbes (@HebbesAlex) July 11, 2016
— Joshua John Parker (@JoshuaJParker) July 11, 2016
Graziano Pelle the latest boy to chuck it #moneytalks
— Ross Grant (@RossGrant8) July 11, 2016