Oscar: One of Football’s Most Confusing Careers
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Oscar: One of Football’s Most Confusing Careers

25/01/24 12:33

“The Xavi of the grasslands”. When Oscar broke first broke out at Internacional, the Brazilian media had some high praise for him. All eyes were on him and he was delivering. He racked up 48 caps for the Brazil National Team, before hitting the age of 25. Yet, in 2024, he is nowhere to be seen despite being in the peak years of his career. Let’s have a look at what happened to the Brazilian maestro.

Oscar joined Chelsea in July 2012, after having an incredible campaign at Internacional. He started off strongly at his new club and sent shockwaves around Europe. Not only was he very good on the ball, he was also a great presser which made him invaluable for the team. These characteristics are what made him a regular feature in the national team between 2012 and 2017.

With the arrival of Antonio Conte to Stamford Bridge in 2016, Oscar’s importance dropped. The Italian wanted to completely revamp the team after a disappointing campaign from the Blues. Heads would have to roll and it seemed like Oscar would become a casualty to the changing landscape at Chelsea.

Oscar was not short of suitors. There’s no doubt in that. It was rumoured that many top Italian clubs wanted him and there were even serious talks with Atletico Madrid. This is what Oscar said about his options a few years later: “When I was talking with Shanghai, I was talking to big clubs from Europe, as well. There was Atletico Madrid, who I almost joined. I liked them very much and what they were offering me at the time. There was also Juventus, Inter, and AC Milan. I had some options.”

But why did Oscar decide to go to China, despite interest from all these top clubs? The answer is: money. When Shanghai SIPG (now Shanghai Port) swooped in with an offer for the Brazilian star, it was very tempting for him. He was offered a reported pay rise of 400%. Whilst some players prefer sporting ambition to money, Oscar’s situation was different. He grew up poor in Brazil and had the mammoth task of providing for his family through football. It’s not that he didn’t love football, but he took a decision for the betterment of his family. He has always been incredibly open about the factors surrounding his move and this is what he said in 2017:

“All football players want to earn money to help their families. When I made the decision to come to China, I was thinking more about my family than my career.” Oscar has been exceptional in the Chinese league since his arrival. He is one of the main players of the league. Yet, he hasn’t had a Brazil call up in more than 6 years. The Brazilian lost relevance in European football because the Chinese Super League failed to gain any relevance in the footballing world.

Oscar has always seemed to have the intention of returning to European football at one point or the other in his career. He spoke about it multiple times but nothing ever seemed to materialize. In 2019, he signed a new contract at Shanghai till 2024. This came mere days before the Chinese Government imposed a wage cap of £2.7m pounds on the Chinese Super League. It was seemingly good timing for Oscar because he was reportedly earning an excess of €450,000 a week at his club.

In 2024, Oscar is still playing for Shanghai Port. He is currently 32 years old and his contract is set to expire in November 2024. Although he reportedly tried to return to European football in 2023, offering himself to the likes of Spanish Giants FC Barcelona amongst other teams, it seems like Oscar’s chance to re establish himself at a top club in Europe may be gone. The Brazilian continues to be one of the faces of the Chinese League but he’s far from earning the “Xavi of the grasslands” tag that was placed on him. He will go down as a good football player but his career will always be remembered as one of the biggest peculiarities in football.

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