Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Jose Mourinho
Manchester United went on a pre-season tour to China earlier this year Reuters

The English Premier League, in its bid to cash in on its popularity across the globe, has sold its television rights in China to PPTV for an amount close to $700m.

A source close to PPTV has also revealed that the three-year deal would come into effect from the 2019/20 season making it the league's biggest-ever overseas broadcast sale, according to Reuters.

United States broadcaster NBC currently has the highest-paid overseas deal which accounts to $1bn for six seasons.

Super Sports Media, a Beijing-based television group, currently holds the broadcast rights for the Premier League in China. They had reportedly paid close to $145.13m for a six-year deal which will come to an end following the 2018/19 season.

PPTV, which is part of retail group Suning, already owns Spanish La Liga's television rights and are planning to garner revenue by tapping the Premier League craze in China.

China has close to 200m Premier League fans and more than 350m people are watching matches streamed live from Britain, the report adds.

European giants are also looking to make use of the fan following and the market in the Asian nation to their good.

Notably, league heavyweights Manchester United and Manchester City along with German Bundesliga giants Borussia Dortmund had their 2016/17 pre-season tour in the world's most populous country.

Chinese president Xi Jinping has reportedly been supporting initiatives aimed at making his country a global superpower in football. Chinese businessmen have been encouraged to invest more in the sport.

The Suning group before its Premier League deal also bought close to 70% of controlling stake of Serie A side Inter Milan earlier this year for a reported price of $300m. Another group, backed by Haixia Capital and entrepreneur Yonghong Li, are reportedly close to sealing a deal which will see them buying AC Milan.

Also, the Chinese Super League has seen big-money transfers which has enabled the teams to bring in big names from European football. Superstars including Graziano Pelle, Hulk, Ezequiel Lavezzi, Ramires,Gervinho, Demba Ba and Jackson Martinez are already plying their trade in China.

Hulk reportedly earns close to £340,000 per week, a salary which is only bettered by Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, who are plying their trade in the La Liga.

With more such hefty pay cheques, China is set to attract more stars in the near future, which will be a major step for the country towards becoming a powerful sports economy.