China president Xi Jinping – as a soccer fan and a responsible politician who wanted to lift his country’s global sport reputation a notch or two – had a dream.
Trailing behind world and Europe’s biggest and most prominent competitions in terms of quality, competitive edge and an overall visual appeal, the Chinese Super League was until recently one of the most obscure football destinations, only a brave few dared step into.
One of those explorers of the Asian football world was Frederic Kanoute, who joined Beijing Guoan in the summer of 2012, long before it became cool.
Even before Kanoute, it was the former Chelsea striker and football globetrotter Nicolas Anelka who turned the European football heads towards the East with his Shanghai Shenhua move back in the winter of 2012, whereas it wasn’t too long before another Blues forward joined him in the same club – Didier Drogba – who arrived in the summer of the same year.
A trend had being formed as Chinese soccer clubs continued their whopping surge of spending – and in most cases overspending – in order to raise the profile of their domestic league.
We are not talking about foreign players exclusively. In addition to spending incredible amounts of money of big-name players who made their names playing in Europe, the Chinese are rather generous when it comes to players of their own.
Asa it was nicely pointed by Manuel Veth in one of his latest posts at Futbolgrad.com, the sums they spend often contradict the value of the players involved in deals that even go up to 50 time the actual transfer value – which was the clear case of the winger Chengdong Zhang (valued at €475,000) whose transfer from Beijing Guoan to Hebei China Fortune cost the incredible €20.4 million.
The aim is simple – attract world-famous footballers, lift the quality of the league, benefit from the experience and gain enough football knowledge that would help China become the soccer world-power in order to ultimately win the World Cup.
Well, not exactly. The Chinese have brought plenty of potential problems on themselves and their football league, which is threatening to drown the home-grown players and leave the Chinese talents trailing in the wake of more illustrious names which are currently pouring from the west.
CSl Transfer Changes
In their bid to curb the spending and protect the integrity of domestic players, Chinese Super league has decided to reduce the foreign players’ quota – cutting it from four to three. The new regulations also stipulates that all teams must have at least two Chinese U-23 players in their starting lists.
Will it help?
Only time will tell. But until we see a change of pace and dynamics in the transfer dealings of the league which has most recently offered a whopping deal to Chelsea’s Diego Costa – which turned his head and cost him the place in the team – the SoccerNews.com team presents the list of Top 10 Chinese Soccer Transfers to Date:
- 1. Oscar: Chelsea to Shanghai SIPG – €60 million
- 2. Hulk: Zenit to Shanghai SIPG – €55.80 million
- 3. Alex Teixeira: Shakhtar Donetsk to Jiangsu Suning – €50 million
- 4. Jackson Martinez: Atletico Madrid to Guangzhou Evergrande – €42 million
- 5. Ramires: Chelsea to Jiangsu Suning – €28 million
- 6. Axel Witsel: Zenit to Tianjin Quanjian – 20 million
- 7. Elkeson: Guangzhou Evergrande to Shanghai SIPG – €18.50 million
- 8. Gervinho: Roma to Hebei China Fortune – €18 million
- 9. Graziano Pelle: Southampton to Shandong Luneng – €15.25 million
- 10. Ricardo Goulart: Cruzeiro to Guangzhou Evergrange – €15 million
- 11. Paulinho: Tottenham to Guangzhou Evergrande – €14 million
- 12. Demba Ba: Besiktas to Shanghai Shenhua – €13 million
- 13. Fredy Guarin: Inter to Shanghai Shenhua – 13 million
- 14. Anthony Ujah: Werder Bremen to Liaoning FC – €11,50 million
- 15. Alan: RB Salzburg to Guangzhou Evergrade – €11.10 million
- 16. Carlos Tevez: Boca Juniors to Shanghai Shenhua – €10.50 million
As you can see in our latest Instagram post and from the list of players below it, we struggled to trim it down and our Top 10 list quickly became the Top 16.
Still, there is a good reason we have decided to close our list with the Argentine striker Carlos Tevez as the case of former Manchester United, Manchester City and Juventus striker is arguably the best to illustrate the irrational aspect of the Chinese overspending.
The Absurd Discrepancy
To be honest, Belgium midfielder Axel Witsel fits in the same category of the absurdity.
Both players were heading towards the end of their respective contracts with Boca Juniors and Zenit, and although the Chinese clubs could have negotiated free deals for both stars, they decided to expedite the dealing and once again overpay to buy them out of their expiring contracts.
In addition to the list of the most expensive transfers – arguably the more interesting aspect of the Chinese impact are the whopping figures some of the abovementioned players earn on yearly basis.
Here is come to the last man in the previous list who now climbs to the top as the highest paid football player in China, earning 37.5 million a year which also makes him the highest paid player on the planet, leapfrogging Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
Top 10 highest paid players in China
- 1. Carlos Tevez (Shanghai Shenhua) – €37.5 million per year
- 2. Oscar (Shanghai SIPG) – €24.4 million per year
- 3. Hulk (Shanghai SIPG) – €20 million per year
- 4. Axel Witsel (Tianjin Quanjian) – €16 million per year
- 5. Graziano Pelle (Shandong Luneng) – €15 million per year
- 6. Asamoah Gyan (Shanghai SIPG) – €14.8 million per year
- 7. Ezequiel Lavezzi (Hebei China Fortune) – €14 million per year
- 8. Ramires (Jiangsu Suning) – €13 million per year
- 9. Jackson Martinez (Guangzhou Evergrande) – €12.5 million per year
- 10. Alex Teixeira (Jiangsu Suning) – €12 million per year
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