Sainsbury move was 'not selfish'
Sainsbury was out of contract with his Eredivisie club PEC Zwolle at the end of the season and surprised many observers here and abroad by leaving Europe to sign a three year deal with Jiangsu Suning.
The classy defender initially made the move to Holland in January 2014, but his first two years playing professional football overseas was disrupted by injury and the 24 year old made only 34 appearances for his club during that time.
Mile Sterjovski, who was at the Mariners with Sainsbury during the clubs inaugural Championship winning season, believes that there is no correct answer if the defender’s $1.5 million transfer to China is the right one.
“Everyone has got their opinion whether it’s going to be a good move or not, or if it’s good for his career,” he said.
“The truth is there is no right or wrong. There is motivation to every move. There is positives to every move and negatives. If we were all being selfish and thinking what’s best for the Socceroos you’d say try and stay in Europe and play in better leagues and higher leagues.
“That would be selfish thing for all of us to do but we aren’t in his shoes and we aren’t the ones who are going to be paying his mortgage in the future. If he has a really good financial offer that nobody in Europe could compete with - I don’t know what the details are - but I’m assuming it’s a very good deal then why not take it?”
Sainsbury has been a vital member of Ange Postecoglou’s Socceroos squad earning 12 caps since his debut against Belgium in 2014 and was also a star performer during Australia 2015 Asian Cup victory.
Even though he is leaving European club football to play in China, Sterjovski trusts that his ex-Mariners teammate can still maintain the quality he has shown previously.
“He’s still young where he can learn from the experience and maybe still keep his playing standard high,” he said.
“As supporters of the Socceroos, and you imagine even the coaching staff would want him to play in the highest league possible and in the best leagues but there is no guarantee of that in Europe and an offer like this came along.”
In 2012 the former World Cup Socceroo spent a season playing in China with Dalian Yifang F.C. and Sterjovski said that he gave Sainsbury some insight into what he should expect when he first gets there.
“It’s a different culture to Europe and Australia and a different mindset,” he said.
“At times he might get a little frustrated but I said that he should try and keep calm and his focus because I know his personality. I just told him to keep focused on the job and why he’s there and try and play his best football without outside distractions.”