You may have noticed a rather surprising trend during the recent transfer period. Players weren’t signing on the dotted line at Liverpool or Dortmund. Big spenders like Manchester City, Manchester United and Real Madrid kept the purse strings tightened. The number one destination wasn’t the Premier League or La Liga: it was the Chinese Super League.
Chinese clubs spent over 317 million Euros on players during the recent transfer window. In comparison, clubs in the Premier League spent 253 million while the Italians came in third, spending a paltry 87 million. Who came fourth? The Chinese second league! Teams there spent more on players than clubs in La Liga or the German Bundesliga.
So should fans in Europe be worried about losing their star players? According to former England manager Sven-Göran Eriksson who currently works in China, the answer is yes. “It is only a matter of time before we see players like Ronaldo, Messi and Rooney in this league.“
While that may still be a while off after Rooney and Man Utd rejected recent advances, you may still be surprised by some of the big names ditching the Champions League for Chinese football.
ALEX TEIXEIRA (JS Suning)
Transfer Fee: €50 Million
How do we know him: He was a major transfer target for Liverpool in January, and it seemed as if he would be heading for the Premier League before Klopp’s side refused to pay the asking price. He became the most expensive player in China when he signed for Suning, making Shakhtar Donetsk very happy in the process.
JACKSON MARTINEZ (GZ Evergrande)
Transfer Fee: €42 Million
How do we know him: The Columbian became a household name as he scored for fun at Porto before moving to Atletico Madrid last year. He struggled for form in Spain but still attracted interest from around Europe before opting to move to China.
RAMIRES (JS Suning)
Transfer Fee: €28 Million
How do we know him: Ramires spent five years in the heart of the Chelsea midfield, winning the Premier League, Champions League and Europa League. Chelsea received an offer that was simply too good to refuse for a player whose best days were perhaps behind him…
GERVINHO (HB China Fortun)
Transfer Fee: €18 million
How do we know him: Impressed in France before moving to Arsenal. He failed to impress in North London though and moved to AS Roma where he started brightly before fading away.
FREDY GUARIN (SH Shenhua)
Transfer Fee: €13 million
How do we know him: Scored five goals for Porto as they went on to win the Europa League in 2011 before moving to Inter Milan.
NIKICA JELAVIC (Beijing Renhe/2. Liga)
Transfer Fee: €11.6 million
How do we know him: Jelavic is a real journeyman striker, scoring regularly for Rangers, Everton, Hull and West Ham without ever really commanding a first team spot. How teams like Villa or Newcastle would love to have a player of his quality in their team right now…
RENATO AUGUSTO (BJ Guoan)
Transfer Fee: €8 million
How do we know him: The Brazilian was a key player for Bayer Leverkusen for a number of seasons and he turned down the chance to go back to the Bundesliga to fill his coffers in China.
STEPHANE MBIA (HB China Fortun)
Transfer Fee: €6 million
How do we know him: Won the league with Olympique Marseille in 2010 (their first since 1992) and helped Sevilla win the Europa League in 2014 and 2015 before moving on to Turkey and now China.
EZEQUIEL LAVEZZI (HB China Fortun, Ablöse: 5,5 Mio.)
Transfer Fee: €5.5 million
How do we know him: Became one of the best players in the world while at Napoli before moving to PSG in 2012 for almost €30 million. He spent most of last season warming the bench but continued to be a regular starter for Argentina. There was talk of him moving to one of the top teams in the Premier League before China came knocking.
GAEL KAKUTA (HB China Fortun)
Transfer Fee: €5 million
How do we know him: Was seen as one of the hottest talents in Europe when he moved to Chelsea at 16. He was voted Academy Player of the Year in the same season but was never able to break his way into the first team. Loan spells at Fulham, Bolton, Dijon, Arnheim, Lazio, Rayo Vallecano and Sevilla also failed to get the best out of him.
OBAFEMI MARTINS (Shanghai Shenhua, Ablöse: 2,7 Mio.)
Transfer Fee: €2.7 million
How do we know him: The nigerian striker has been around the world. He started his career at Inter and had his best spell at Newcastle before playing for Birmingham, Wolfsburg, Rubin Kasan, Levante and Seattle Sounders.
JO (Jiangsu Suning)
Transfer Fee: €2 million
How do we know him: He was seen as “the new Pele” when he broke onto the scene as a youngster but like many before him he failed to live up to the hype. Manchester City forked out over 24 million for him in 2008 after an impressive spell in Russia but he was only able to show rare glimpses of talent.
LUIS FABIANO (Tianjin Quanjian/2. Liga)
Transfer Fee: €0
Woher wir ihn kennen: The Brazilian was feared by defences across Europe as he lead Sevilla to two Uefa Cup wins in 2006 and 2007.