The Chinese Super League has splashed hundreds of millions on player transfers but it is still not a patch on Japan’s J-League, says new Vissel Kobe signing Lukas Podolski.
CSL clubs attracted worldwide headlines earlier this year when they went on a pre-season shopping spree that stretched to almost €400 million.
But 32-year-old Germany international and former World Cup winner Podolski says the "more professional and intense" Japanese football remains the best the continent has to offer.
“Football in Japan is highly looked upon, even more than in the rest of Asia,” he exclusively told Goal .
“The players are experienced. I often played against them. They are sophisticated, keep the ball moving well.
“Many Japanese players made it in Europe, which shows the quality. I don't know [about] that from other Asian leagues.”
Former Bayern Munich, Arsenal and Galatasaray star Podolski arrived to a heroes’ reception on Thursday as he was officially announced as a Kobe player.
And he says he certainly isn’t heading to Japan to put his feet up in the twilight of a glittering career that saw him make 130 appearances for his country.
“I am not moving there for a holiday, I want to prove myself on the pitch and I hope I will succeed in this half year to accelerate in the next season,” he said.
“I did not sign a contract for two-and-a-half years to leave after a few months. I want to integrate into the club and reach the visions we have.
“As I said, if we reach the top three in the first year, that would be a great success. We'll see what's possible in the coming years.”