Guangzhou Evergrande have become the first Chinese club to sign a player on active international duty with a major European footballing power with the capture of Italian playmaker Alessandro Diamanti for 6.9m Euro from Bologna.
In what is another coup for the Chinese Super League, Evergrande have upped the ante on themselves, replacing the outgoing Dario Conca, twice Brazilian League player of the year, by signing a current Italy international in the shape of Diamanti who has 17 caps for his country.
The transfer was greeted with some derision in Europe, with many questioning Diamanti’s motives for joining the Asian champions to work underneath his legendary countryman, Italian world-cup winning coach Marcello Lippi.
However, according to Italian media reports, current Italy coach Cesare Prandelli assured Diamanti that moving to the CSL would not affect the 30-year-old’s chances of being called up to the Italian squad for the World Cup in Brazil this summer.
Evergrande chairman Xu Jiayin had previously stated that all signings must be under 30 years old, but told reporters that an exception could be made if the player was a current international from a country in the top 20 of FIFA’s world rankings.
According to Chinese media reports, the signing takes the Cantonese club’s total transfer fee spending to 40 million Euros since Evergrande took over the club in 2010.