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The CSL’s Top Transfer Targets in 2012

The big news this week was Guangzhou Evergrande jumping the gun on the transfer window and announcing their new signings ahead of time.  The defending champs picked up national teamers Zhao Xuri (from Shaanxi) and Rong Hao (from Hangzhou) as well as yougsters Li Jianbin and Peng Xinli (both from Chengdu).  Originally the deal for Zhao Xuri was to include Yang Hao, reuniting him with fellow Beijinger Gao Hongbo at Shaanxi Chanba (or should we say Guizhou?), but it appears the player swap fell through and Yang will remain with Evergrande.  Yang struggled to get his minutes last year and with Zhao joining the club, it seems unlikely he’ll play at all, though I can understand with the likely exodus and uncertainty at Shaanxi, he doesn’t want to go there.

On Sunday morning when the transfer window opens up, we’re sure to see a lot more moving going on, so we wanted to take a quick look at some of the top prizes out there and what we’re likely to see happen when the market opens up.

Yu Hanchao (Liaoning)
‘s Chinese Player of the Year could be changing clubs in the offseason, especially since Liaoning won’t be involved in the Asian Champions League.  The likely destination is obviously Guangzhou Evergrande, but with their midfield purchases, one wonders if Yu would be a good fit there.  Jiangsu seems to be looking for a top winger, they may have the money for Yu, but it wouldn’t be a shock if he remains in Liaoning for another season.

Feng Renliang (Shanghai)
There’s obviously a ton of interest in Feng, but not a lot of teams who have the money to buy him.  He’s headed to Spain for a trial and the club has come out and declared they are willing to sell him at a “bargain” price to a foreign club just to keep him away from Chinese Super League opponents.  Again, Evergrande’s the obvious suiter, but I expect we’ll see him overseas.

Cao Yunding (Shanghai)
There’s a lot of interest in him from a few different clubs, including from “local” rival Jiangsu.  He’d be a good fit for that side and may be the missing piece they need to turn them into serious contenders, an attractive option to wasting another year with Shenhua.  Guangzhou Fuli is another side interested in making a splash and Cao would fit.

Yu Dabao (Tianjin)
His impressive performance in the CFA Cup final put an exclamation mark on Yu’s excellent season.  He’s an exciting player and is attracting a lot of interest, both domestically and from overseas.  Guoan has shown interest in him, but it doesn’t seem likely he’ll cross the giant Jing-Jin derby divide.  The two Dalian clubs have made offers and may be his most likely destination.

Zheng Long (Qingdao)
I never would have put Zheng on this list as ‘s Young Player of the Year seemed likely to stay home in Qingdao where he was really building something, but Jiangsu’s in the market for a midfielder and Zheng’s one of the names being thrown around.  He would be an impressive pickup for anybody, but its going to be hard to lure him away from Qingdao as they seem to be developing a decent team there.

Those appear to be the biggest prizes on the market and we mentioned some of the main market participants, but its time to take a closer look at how things will break down:

The Dominator
Guangzhou Evergrande has already made a splash on the market, bringing in Rong and Zhao, though its likely they aren’t done yet.  I would expect one more major national team level signing, though its interesting to see them pick up Li and Peng, the pair are 22 and 20, respectively, so it shows that the club is serious about building for the future.

The Upstarts
Guangzhou Fuli and Dalian Aerbin are unlike the traditional promoted sides and look more like Evergrande did last year.  These are two clubs that don’t want to just be happy to get into the top flight, they want to compete right away and are willing to put the necessary funds into their side to make that possible.  Aerbin’s already been involved in talks with a number of players while Fuli is trying to unite the lions of Cantonese football, bringing Wu Wei’an and Yang Zhi back home.

Building a Contender
Jiangsu came out of nowhere last year to contend for an Asian Champions League spot and the club seems willing to spend some money to make them into a serious title candidate.  Don’t expect them to bid on many players, but they are likely to make a splash with one major purchase in the market.  For Qingdao, it will be about doing everything they can to keep their young talent in tow, while bringing in one or two more players, most likely it will mean bringing home grown star Qu Bo back home.

Don’t Count Them Out
Traditionally strong clubs Shandong, Beijing, and Dalian are all going to be involved in the transfer market, though are unlikely to make the “headline” purchases.  They have the money to bring in a big name or two, but they’ve been keeping their cards close to their chest so far.

What’s Going On There?
Shaanxi is currently in major disarray and though they’ve been buyers in the past, it seems they’ll have a hard time holding onto their top players and won’t be too involved in the transfer market.  After Tianjin let Arie Haan walk, a number of players were unhappy leading to a likely exodus this offseason, made worse because the club still has not found a manager for the coming season.  Hangzhou spent a lot on their manager and has some money after the sale of Rong, but don’t expect Song Weiping to be spending that money.

Buyers or Sellers?
There has been a lot of interest in Shenhua’s young stars, the previously mentioned Feng and Cao as well as Wu Xi, have been at the center of a number of rumors.  They garnered headlines after signing Nicolas Anelka and though they’ve been very busy talking up other foreign players, it seems that’s been done at the cost of keeping local talent.  The Anelka purchase and their search for another big name foreigner may mean Zhu Jun doesn’t have any money left to add to the side.

 


Brandon Chemers aka B. Cheng aka A Modern Lei Feng – is a name which may be familiar to many in the Chinese blogosphere.

He currently serves as Editor-in-Chief for Wild East Football and is one of the lonely souls writing about Chinese football in English for the last 10 years.

Chemers’ credentials are second to none – his former blog focused not only on the fortunes of his beloved Beijing Guoan FC, but a multitude of other aspects of Beijing life. He’s deservedly built a reputation in the Chinese blogosphere as an insightful observer of not only Chinese football, but also the wider picture of life in modern China and its many layers.

For WEF, beyond writing about Guoan, he often focuses on fan culture and the business of Chinese football.

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. CP

    31/12/2011 at 11:51

    I thought Yang Zhi was from Guangzhou but
    Yang Zhi’s Wikipedia page shows his birthplace as Minsk, Belarus.
    Is this a joke or would anyone know how Yang Zhi was born there, was his father working there?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yang_Zhi_%28footballer%29

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