Guangzhou Evergrande have continued their summer spending with the €5 million addition of 2006 World Cup winning striker Alberto Gilardino, who joins from Serie A side Genoa.
Gilardino, 32, is reunited with former colleagues in China, having played under coach Marcello Lippi with the national side as well as forming a renowned partnership with attacking midfielder Alessandro Diamanti for Bologna.
The third highest scorer in Serie A history of those currently playing, he has scored 175 goals in the Italian top-flight in a professional career spanning from 1999 to the present day. Since 2003, he has only twice failed to reach double figures in league action.
His arrival, though, sees the departure of a Guangzhou icon in Brazilian forward Muriqui, with foreign player quotas determining that one of the club’s non-Chinese players must depart.
The 2013 AFC Foreign Player of the year leaves as the club’s all-time top scorer after his four year spell in Guangdong, joining fellow AFC Champions League quarterfinalists Al-Sadd of Qatar on a deal worth US$8-10 million.
The transfer fee represents the biggest single sale in the history of Chinese football, with Muriqui having originally joined Evergrande for a fee of US$3.5 million whilst the club were in China League One in 2010.
He leaves with three Chinese Super League titles to his name, an AFC Champions League title, as well as top-scorer awards in China League One, the CSL and the Champions League.
The hope must now be for all Guangzhou supporters that Gilardino can live up to his reputation and help the club to a second continental triumph later this year, with many mourning the loss of their hero over recent days.
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