I ruminated a few weeks ago about how no transfer this season has been a simple, straightforward affair. However, Yu Dabao’s transfer takes the cake for craziest of the season and after all but submitting papers to the league to join Guangzhou Evergrande, after a good night’s sleep he quickly went back and decided to sign with Dalian Aerbin instead.
Yu was in Guangzhou over the weekend to support his Tianjin teammates in the Chinese SuperCup, though his main reason for being there was to negotiate his transfer with Guangzhou Evergrande. Negotations went late into the night over the weekend and depending on what sources you were reading, the transfer fee was between RMB15-25 million with a yearly salary of RMB3-5 million. There was some talk that Guangzhou’s transfer fee may even be as high as RMB30 million.
However, no matter how close this deal was to being final, the media was ignoring one important sidenote that every article mentioned, Yu Dabao’s mother wanted him to play in the north, in particular her hometown of Dalian. A rumor has even been spread that when it became obvious Evergrande was in the driver’s seat, his mother took his passport and refused to give it to him if he decided to play for Evergrande, thus preventing him from registering with the club’s AFC roster. While this makes for a great story, it’s probably far from the truth. That said, Yu openly admitted on Sina weibo that “respecting his family’s choices” he was rejecting the Evergrande deal with a heavy heart.
In figuring out how to cover the silly season, we at discussed not doing an article until the “player is holding up a jersey”, but as we reported, the Yu transfer appeared to be a done deal. We still don’t have Yu holding up an Aerbin jersey, but both Tianjin and Dalian have confirmed their agreement and issued statements via their official weibo accounts. No finalized amount has been published and it no longer looks like Yu and Chen Tao will be packaged together, as Tianjin is adding Chen to their ACL roster. Rumors are that Dalian may have spent as much as RMB40 million ($6.3 million) on Yu and that club chairman Li Ming, who has a good relationship with Evergrande, impressed upon them the importance of avoiding an all-out bidding war.
Though Yu will be giving up the chance to play ACL football, Aerbin have an impressive group of foreign players and young potential stars and should be a solid side. While the club is unlikely to contend for the title (or even an ACL spot), they should be able to break into the second tier of clubs, especially with the club’s tradition of winning titles in the lower levels. Yu is only 23 years old, but looks poised to be a team leader and singular superstar, at Aerbin he’ll have that chance.