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Drogba Who? Foreigner Focus on Muriqui

Drogba Who? Wild East Football analyses those who have already made an impact on the Chinese Super League before this summer’s influx of football mega stars.

With Mr. Drogba and Mr. Anelka unfairly grabbing the headlines again by bagging three goals between them, Kanoute meanwhile was left in Beijing for Guoan to prosper and the presence of ‘The Yak’ in the south has sparked a huge rise in confidence for R&F.

Chinese players restored a little balance in the CSL though by bagging 8 of the 20 goals scored last weekend just before the China squad was announced for friendlies against Sweden and Brazil. With seven Guangzhou Evergrande players in the side it is fitting then that we now analyze a man who plays amongst them, Luiz Guilherme da Conceição Silva who for the purposes of this edition of Drogba Who? will be called, Muriqui.

Much was made of Muriqui, his arrival on June 30th 2010 was huge at a time when the Southern Tigers were a wounded animal, a match fixing scandal due to a 200,000 RMB bribe in 2006 had broken the Guangzhou side and saw then relegated back to China League One. However, somewhat phoenix-like Guangzhou were taken over by Evergrande Real Estate Group and signed Sun Xiang and Zheng Zhi followed by Muriqui as the season was underway. Brazilian-Serb Cléo, Argentine U-20 International Darío Conca and Paraguayan International Lucas Barrios have followed and we all know the story by now of the Marcelo Lippi managed CSL Champions.

Muriqui did have a task to do though and boy did he do it! Before his arrival, Evergrande were on relatively normal form; six wins, six defeats and seven draws, a 33% win rate. 25 goals were scored, 1.38 per game and 27 conceded, 1.5 goals per game.

Muriqui entered to the obvious buzz and luckily had a first game against whipping boys Nanjing Yoyo, whipped they were, 10-0 with the Brazilian winger announcing himself with four goals. The scoring did not stop, in 18 games Evergrande smashed 49, 15 of which were by the man himself making 2.7 goals a game and conceded just 13, 0.72 per game including eight clean sheets. This perhaps being the definition of ‘the best form of defense is to attack’, Guangzhou won 14 of their first 18 games with Muriqui, a massive 77% and didn’t lose a single game.

In fairness to the other players we have looked at, it would not be too wrong to say that Muriqui came to Guangzhou at the opportune moment. However, the winner of the Brazilian Minero One title and CFA Footballer of the Year has significant proof of his impact; Guangzhou Evergrande won 44% more games with him in the side, conceded half as many goals and scored 1.3 goals per game more.

Zlatan Muslimović had quite the impact with a 22% improvement on Guizhou Renhe’s fortunes and that was all done in the CSL. Muriqui had the luxury of China League One first and certainly had an impact as did Guangzhou Evergrande’s reported 100 Million purchase of the club but starting with a 10-0 and not losing wasn’t a bad way to start at all and with him in the side they still sit pretty at the top of the CSL.

Next week we go all the way back up North to Changchun where Uzbekistan international Anzur Ismailov has played the last two seasons and been integral to their continued residence in the Chinese Super League!

Pete is from Sheffield, England and came to China in 2008 initially living in Shenyang where he witnessed his first CSL game, Liaoning Whowin v Chengdu Blades. Pete is a fanatic Sheffield Wednesday fan but has picked up football allegiances from various trips, Galatasary in Turkey, Piacenza in Italy and Muangthong United in Thailand. In early 2009 he moved to Beijing and after a brief time started attending Guoan games regularly. Pete graduated in Journalism in the UK and has written for several educational publications on Chinese education for his day job as well as Chinese football for WEF which he wishes was more developed but avidly follows the Imperial Guards on their quest for CSL supremacy regardless.



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