After mutually agreeing to terminate his contract with the New York Red Bulls on Monday, Australian international Tim Cahill signed a deal with Shanghai Shenhua. He reportedly turned down deals from Al Wahda in the United Arab Emirates and Real Sociedad, which would have reunited him with former Everton manager David Moyes.
Despite playing in China possibly being viewed as a "step down," Cahill sees plenty of opportunity.
"China is a growing market in football. You've seen the game [Australia] played against China and the millions and millions of people who watched it. I'm somebody that embraces culture and different aspects of life. I'm at an age where I want to give something back to football as well as still playing at a high level. I've taken in some advice from some very powerful men in football and it's all about doing what I want to do as a football player and trying different leagues."
Cahill thanked the Red Bulls and MLS via social media.
Thank you @NewYorkRedBulls @MLS for being a great club and league. All the fans have been amazing and proud to have shared priceless moments— Tim Cahill (@Tim_Cahill) February 3, 2015
I'll never forget this night when we played Seattle and we drew and got an important point to help seal the supporters shield. I can honestly say that everywhere you go u have ups and downs but @newyorkredbulls we had more ups and amazing moments. I would like to THANK @newyorkredbulls @redbull organisation, staff and most importantly my team mates and fans. The @mls is a top league and helped give me an amazing platform to keep me playing at the highest level to compete also on the international stage. I wish the team all the success and hope that they can deliver the fans what they deserve and that's an MLS CUP we got so close last year and the boss Petke and team deserve a lot of credit. Massive THANK YOU to everyone. #RBNY
Shanghai Shenhua, formally known as Shanghai Greenland Shenhua, has won the Chinese Super League twice, in 1995 and 2003. However, the 2003 title was stripped by the Chinese Football Association due to evidence of match fixing.
Cahill's new club is no stranger to big name players. The club recently signed Greek-Australian Avram Papadopoulos to a 4.6 million (AUS) dollar contract and at one point had Didier Drogba and Nicholas Anelka on its books. Shanghai Shenhua has run into problems with paying players' wages before, but the club has seen a recent infusion of cash since Fortune 500 company the Greenland Group purchased a 28.5 share in the club.
China has had its problems with its domestic league, and has been described by some as being "at the epicenter of global soccer match-fixing."
Shanghai Shenhua finished 9th in the Chinese Super League 2014.