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Guangzhou Evergrande: The construction of Asia’s champions

In the wake of Saturday night’s Asian Champions League victory, a lot of talk went into all that Guangzhou Evergrande spent to become the dominating force in the Chinese Super League and Asia’s top team. Below is a year-by-year breakdown of who joined the club and the transfer fees paid for each of the players. This only looks at the current main squad and doesn’t include the massive fees paid for a number of players who’ve since left the club (including, of course, Lucas Barrios, Yang Hao, Cleo, and Jiang Ning). Before we even start talking about what Evergrande paid in salaries, the club spent US$44.5 million in transfer fees to build the team and that doesn’t include the huge salary they are paying Marcello Lippi.


-Feng Junyan gets promoted from Guangzhou’s youth team to the club’s first team, debuts for the side in July against Xiamen.

-After being unhappy about his playing time with Qingdao, keeper Li Shuai moves to Guangzhou Pharmaceutical, which was then in the China League.

-January: Ni Bo joined Guangzhou Pharmaceutical on a free as he was without a club, but the youngster spends the next few years in the reserve side.

Xu Jiayin purchased the relegated Guangzhou side for US$16.4 million, renames it Guangzhou Evergrande.
-As one of his first moves, Xu fires Peng Weiguo before the manager even headed up a game and replaced him with Lee Jangsoo.
-The move that started it all: Despite being in the China League, Evergrande lured out of favor national teamer Gao Lin from Shanghai Shenhua for a transfer fee of US$984,000.
-April: At only US$492,000, Sun Xiang is a bargain as he joined the club from Shanghai Shenhua, turning down an offer from the A-League for the bigger contracts of Evergrande.
-June: Evergrande set the domestic transfer fee record (which they would break many times over the next few years) when they paid US$3.5 million for Brazilian striker Muriqui.
-July: Out of contract at Celtic, Zheng Zhi planned to return to China but created shock waves by jettisoning all CSL sides and instead joining second tier Evergrande.
-November: After gaining promotion to the CSL, Evergrande start to invest for the top flight by purchasing in demand defender Zhang Linpeng for US$1.96 million.
-November: At this point the spending spree also included purchasing Qin Sheng from Liaoning for US$1.3 million. It was a fine piece of business for the northeastern club who signed Qin the year before on a free. For Qin, it was a massive step up as only a few years prior he was on US$650 a month with Qingdao.

-December: Yang Jun, out of contract for two seasons, joined Evergrande on a free.
-March: Evergrande are rumored to pay US$1.5 million to secure the return to China of Feng Xiaoting.
-July: Two time Brazilian player of the year Dario Conca joined the club making headlines around the world when the club paid $10 million for the little known Argentinian.
-December: Winning one title isn’t enough, the club has to improve further, they do so by signing Hangzhou’s star defender Rong Hao for US$1.96 million.
-December: Not satisfied with Yang Hao, purchased only a year before, the club pays Guizhou $1.6 million (& Yang Hao) for Zhao Xuri.

-May: Despite Lee Jangsoo leading Evergrande into the CSL and then winning it in the first year the club returned to the top flight, Evergrande decides to dump Lee and names Marcello Lippi manager.
-July: Huang Bowen departs Jeonbuk & proceeds to anger Guoan fans everywhere by joining the Cantonese side for US$2.2 million.
-July: Hot on the heels of signing Huang, the club follows it up by signing young Korean star Kim Young-Gwon for US$2.5 million from Japanese side Omiya Ardija.
-November: Feng Renliang joined from Shanghai Shenhua, the fee was unreported but assumed to be around US$3 million.

Liao Lisheng, Fang Jingqi, Yang Chaosheng, Li Weixin, Hu Weiwei, Zhang Xingbo and Wang Rui were purchased together from China League Two side Dongguan Nancheng.
Yi Teng joined from Shenzhen Ruby for a transfer fee of US$1.6 million.
Zhao Peng & Zeng Cheng joined from relegated Henan Construction. Zheng came on a free while Zhao costs a whopping US$3.28 million.
Elkeson joined the Cantonese giants from Brazilian side Botafogo for a reported US$8.69 million.
-July: The final piece of the puzzle, Zheng Long joined Evergrande on a “loan” deal from Qingdao, a move that ultimately relegated the seasiders.

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.

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