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Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery 'too old' to play in the Chinese Super League

The sporting director of Shanghai SIPG thinks Robben and Ribery have “missed their chance” to play in the CSL.

Arsenal FC v FC Bayern Muenchen - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: Second Leg Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images

No, your eyes are not deceiving you. Mads Davidsen, the sporting director of Shanghai SIPG, has come out and insisted that both Bayern Munich's aging wingers Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery have “missed their chance” to play in the Chinese Super League. Davidsen is of the opinion that the duo are past their prime and too old to join the ranks of a CSL club.

Speaking to Sport BILD, the Danish director showed no sympathy for the aging Bayern wingers:

It’s a misconception that makes me really angry when players in Europe believe they can freely choose the time to move to China. This was the situation three or four years ago but those times are over. If Ribery had an offer two or three years ago from China then that was his chance, but an ambitious Chinese team like Shanghai SIPG wouldn’t sign him or Robben now. Why should a Chinese club sign a 33- or 34-year-old when they can get 27-year-old stars like Axel Witsel or Alex Teixeira — or Oscar at 25?

The Chinese Super League has a longstanding reputation for making blockbuster bids for established stars in the European top flight, and recently some of those transfers have actually happened. Tianjin Quanjian rocked the Bundesliga by buying Köln's star Anthony Modeste for over €30 million this summer and reportedly was also chasing Borussia Dortmund's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

China has also long been a reliable destination for players approaching the tail end of their career. Ribery revealed last year that had turned down a substantial bid from China, and Robben and Ribery have flirted with the idea of moving on to either China, the Middle East, or the United States once their contracts with Bayern expire, so Davidsen could be eating his words at some point in the not-so-distant future.

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