Football clubs from Europe are set to tour Asia, with pre-season fixtures in China, Hong Kong and Singapore. This week and next, top clubs like Chelsea, Arsenal and Bayern Munich will play in China and Singapore as part of their pre-season tour.
The eighth edition of the Premier League Asia Trophy will also see Liverpool and three more English clubs play in Hong Kong over the next few days.
With all the attention on European football clubs in Asia hawking their multi-million star players in a bid to boost shirt sales (and promote grassroots football among many other things), less attention is on the Chinese Super League after a few weeks of furious transfer speculation on whether Chinese clubs were tied to top players like Diego Costa and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
While outlays might have been tempered by a spending cap imposed by Chinese football authorities, the demand for quality players is likely to continue, albeit without astronomical transfer fees, as China aims to be a football powerhouse in the near future.
Here are five huge transfer deals that shook the football world, and put the focus on Chinese clubs’ massive spending:
1. Oscar joins Shanghai SIPG
The Brazilian midfielder’s transfer fee shattered the Asian transfer record when the 25-year-old moved in January from Chelsea to Shanghai SIPG, for a fee of 60 million pounds (or 60 million euros depending on reports). Oscar, who played with Brazilian club International before signing for Chelsea in 2012, started with a bang before fizzling out – finding himself out of favor with current manager Antonio Conte last season. He also sparked a massive on-field brawl last month.
2. Hulk moves to Shanghai SIPG
Givanildo Vieira de Sousa, otherwise known as Hulk, plays for the same team as Oscar, the Shanghai SIPG. Big things were anticipated of him following a breakout season under Andre Villas Boas at Portuguese club Porto FC in 2010-2011, who is also his current manager at Shanghai SIPG. But he signed for Russian club Zenit Saint Petersburg in a shock move in 2012. Nevertheless, he fared well in Russia, enough for Shanghai SIPG to fork out more than 55 million euros according to reports in June last year. Oh, and did we mention a weekly wage of more than US$400,000 , just a little shy of Oscar, who wage is closer to the $500,000 mark.
3. Alex Teixeira signs for Jiangsu Suning
The Brazilian forward signed for Jiangsu Suning from Ukrainian club Shakhtar Donetsk in the middle of February last year for a reported fee of 50 million euros. Clubs like Chelsea and Liverpool were rumored to be tying him up but Jiangsu swopped at the last moment, with a then Asian record transfer (that was topped by fees paid for Hulk and Oscar). But the move may not have been quite what he hoped for, with Jiangsu Suning now sitting in the relegation zone, except for his wage, of course.
4. Jackson Martinez bought by Guangzhou Evergrande
Just below Teixeira is the fee paid for Jackson Martinez, now the fourth highest on China’s Super League transfer table, at 42 million euros. The Colombian striker was tied with big clubs in Europe following his performances for Portuguese club Porto from 2012 to 2015. He then signed with Spanish club Atlético Madrid in June 2015, before joining Chinese champions Guangzhou Evergrande, his current club, early last year.
5. Carlos Tevez goes to Shanghai Shenhua
The journeyman striker has played for Manchester United, Manchester City and Juventus. The Argentinian was signed at the end of December 2016 for an undisclosed fee, reported to be 84 million euros – which would have made him the most expensive transfer to the Chinese Super League. He also became the world’s highest paid footballer for a whopping 615,000 pounds a week, which works out roughly at about one British pound per second. Slammed by local media for visiting a theme park while being injured, reports also allege that Tevez had trouble settling down plus problems with Chinese food. And with characteristic frankness, he told a Spanish TV station in May that football in the world’s most populous country was 50 years behind Europe!
Meanwhile, top Chinese players earn a fraction of these amounts.