As Guangzhou Evergrande celebrate their double-winning campaign, in the process becoming just the third Chinese side to hit such heights, the transfer market kicks-off inearnest. With the window yet to officially open, it is domestic transfers which are topping the list of priorities for most sides and, despite their success, Evergrande are no different. So, here’s a quick look at the latest from Tianhe.
Official: Feng Renliang joins for £1.3 million
It’s complete. Shanghai Shenhua winger Feng Renliang (pictured) has joined Guangzhou Evergrande in a deal worth somewhere in the region of £1.3 million, with Feng pocketing a wage of around £6k a week, up from just £1.5k at Shenhua. The deal falls in line with Marcello Lippi’s view of wide, expansive play for next season and Evergrande’s policy of buying the best Chinese players available in order to create a strong side within the quota restrictions. I am sure, though, that ‘s Cameron will have an opinion on Shenhua selling one of their leading domestic talents. Shenhua will, though, benefit from Chinese under-23 international defender Li Jianbin who joins on-loan as part of the transfer, having featured only sporadically for the Cantonese side this season.
Lippi eyes change of goalkeeper?
Upon Lippi’s arrival, first-choice keeper Yang Jun was demoted to the substitutes bench after a couple of poor showings, whilst his replacement Li Shuai has wandered from the sublime to the ridiculous in the space of minutes. Despite, then, being able to call upon two of the league’s most respected and experienced goalkeepers, there are growing reports that the club are set to sign national team goalkeeper Zeng Cheng. Zeng, 25, has 16-caps to his name and has been first-choice for China throughout Jose Camacho’s reign, but with Henan Construction now relegated, the goalkeeper is reportedly a free-agent as part of the terms of a three-year deal signed earlier this year. Reports suggest a move to Evergrande is almost done and, with sides unable to sign foreign goalkeepers, the Guangzhou based outfit will feel it is an opportunity to upgrade for a younger model without spending a penny on transfer fees. There is talk, though, of Zeng moving to Europe on-loan sometime next year but, for now, this remains just conjecture.
Foreign player update
Since the last Evergrande Report, the situation has changed little. Paulão, Cho Won-Hee and Cléo are heading for the exit-doors, but questions remain over those set to stay with the club. Attacking-midfielder Muriqui and defender Kim Young-Gwon are almost certain to play for the club in 2013, but there are still questions over both Dario Conca and Lucas Barrios. For Paraguayan Barrios, the situation is simple: he has a long-term contract at the club and despite stating an interest in a return to former clubs Dortmund or Colo Colo, is happy to remain if the requested transfer fee is not met. Given his recent arrival, then, an exit seems improbable. That leaves Evergrande with one remaining space in which to manoeuvre, besides that of Conca. Conca’s situation is the most fluid and seems to change on an hour-by-bour basis. Fluminense, the Argentine’s former side, have made clear their intention to sign the midfielder but would need Evergrande to lower their asking price. Thus far, the Chinese side are resisting, but with Fluminense able to offer a significant fee and Conca out of contract next December, fears are now emerging that the club will be left penniless in a year’s time. A potential saga that could rumble on into the new year looks set to gather pace in the coming weeks.
AC Milan partnership?
Once more, the details are as yet unclear, but there have been significant developments in talks between Evergrande chairman Liu Yongzhuo and AC Milan in the past week. There is talk in Italy that Liu is set to invest in the Rossoneri, who are in an uncertain period as owner Silvio Berlusconi tightens his purse-strings after years of liberal spending. Some reports suggest that Marcello Lippi would then switch camps to join Milan as a director, once his time in Guangzhou is complete. The facts that have emerged are thus: Liu is holding talks with Milan and will visit the club in January, during which time he will take in some matches and could be accompanied by Lippi. Beyond that, there are some quarters of the Italian and Chinese media that suggest a partnership may be struck between the two sides which would see Evergrande benefit by virtue of players moving to the Far East, whilst Milan would benefit financially and through increased publicity in China. Whilst speculation is rife and must be treated with more than a pinch of salt, it is clear that this is a deal to keep an eye on in the coming weeks.
Ground: Hongkou Football Stadium, Hongkou District, Shanghai
Capacity: 35,000 (26,000 for football)
Honours: Chinese top-tier league champions: 1995
Chinese top-tier league runners-up: 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2008
Chinese FA Cup winners: 1998
Chinese FA Cup runners up: 1995, 1997, 2015