Sadly, the Chinese domestic season is over but with significant investment reportedly coming the way of a few teams – most notably Sven Goran Erikson’s Shanghai SIPG – this year’s winter transfer window is expected to be an eventful one.
With the window not officially opening until January 1st and most teams away on their post-season holidays, it’s not surprising that the big moves to take place in November have either come from players wishing to part ways with their team or clubs looking to clear away clutter to free up space in preparation for the upcoming flurry of activity. Here, gives a round-up of November’s confirmed comings and goings, starting with the Super League’s only major signing so far.
On November 13th Beijing Guo’an announced that Swedish international forward Erton Fejzullahu had signed a two year contract with the Super League runners-up following a successful loan spell. The 26-year-old arrived from Swedish side Djugardens IF in the summer and took advantage of Argentinean Pablo Batalla’s injury to score seven goals in fourteen appearances while forming a potent partnership with Dejan Damjanovic. When Batalla returned to fitness, Fejzullah dropped to the bench for the final two games of the season, so it will be interesting to see the impact Swede’s permanent capture will have on Manager Gregorio Manzano’s distribution of foreign players in next year’s starting line.
Fejzullah is the Super League’s only confirmed signing, but a few foreign players have already gone the other way. The best of them is Changchun Yatai’s Brazilian midfielder Eninho whose nine goals from midfield made him the club’s top scorer in 2014. The 34-year-old was deemed too old by the owners and, along with Head Coach Dragan Okuka, will be looking for alternative employment when his contract expires at the end of the year.
One player who didn’t wait to be shown the door was former German international Mike Hanke who announced he was leaving Guizhou Renhe almost as soon as the full time whistle blew on their final game of the season. Having previously spent his entire career in Germany before signing with Guizhou in the summer, Hanke cited separation from his family as the primary reason for his swift departure. But the German also found time to take a pop at the Guiyang side’s lax training schedule, claiming that he and Bosnian teammate Zvjezdan Misimovic had to train by themselves in order to maintain their sharpness. Be that as it may, Hanke’s half-season in Guizhou was far from successful and saw him score just one goal in fourteen appearances. As well as being ineffective in front of goal, his presence kept either young Brazilian Hyuri or, more commonly, Polish midfielder Krzysztof Mączyński out of the side and Guizhou were a poorer team for it. Therefore, Hanke’s return to Germany is a move which will satisfy everyone.
Another move that has apparently been accepted by all parties is Korean centre back Cho Kuk-Byong’s departure from Shanghai Shenhua. He had recently signed a one year extension to his existing contract, but Shenhua suddenly changed their mind offered no public explaination or any details of possible compensation. It was Shenhua who initiated the termination as they are seeking an alternative to fill their Asian player slot – reportedly West Sydney Wanderers’ Asian Champion’s League winning captain Nikolai Topor-Stanley. However, Cho, who performed competently during his year in Shanghai, has accepted the decision and is apparently set for a move to Thailand.
Two players who may not be content with exiting their club are Brazilian duo Elias and Luiz Eduardo of League One champions Chongqing Lifan. Despite helping their side return to the Super League after a four year absence, Lifan have stated that the midfielder and centre back will not have their contracts renewed because they lack the “strength” to play in the top flight. Less surprisingly, Chongqing also announced their intention to maintain the services of League One top sorer, Guto. The Brazilian netted 21 times last season and Chongqing’s willingness to let his compatriots go is indicative of their ambition to add to his firepower and compete seriously in 2015.
Another side hoping to upgrade their foreign playing staff in 2015 is Loning Whowin who have released Belgian striker Kevin Oris and Serbian attacker Aleksander Jevtic. The towering Oris was signed last winter after an impressive spell in Korea but spent much of the season injured, managing just one goal from nine appearances. Meanwhile, Jevtic, who had spent the previous three years with Jiangsu Sainty, failed to impress in his debut season with Whowin. One important reason the European pair have become surplus to requirements is the continuing success of James Chamanga and the impressive performances of summer signing Derick Ogbu. Liaoning have confirmed that the Zambian and Nigerian forwards will both be returning next season along with Australian centre back Josh Mitchell who also settled in well after arriving in the summer.
Liaoning have also allowed a quartet of fringe players to depart to League One provincial rivals Shenyang Zhongze. None of Tian Runze, Wang Weipu, Cao Jiahong and Liu Jiaxin appeared for Liaoning last season, but the young group may be better appreciated by Zhongze who finished a disappointing eleventh in 2014 and are in the process of radically overhauling their squad.
Brazilian forward Jose Duarte and Serbian defender Zoran Rendulic will certainly not be returning to Shenyang Zhongze in 2015 and it seems that seven domestic players will all be playing elsewhere next season too. Zhao Yibo, Wen Huyi, Zhang Gong, Li Gang, Tian Yinong, Ni Bo and Hao Yonhe are departing and with only the latter two being loaned players who will be returning to their parent clubs, it is clear that major changes will be happening in Shenyang this off-season.
Finally, onto a player who, unlike the last two years, looks as though he has already found a place to ply his trade for the beginning of the 2015 season. Yan Xiangchuang stated he was leaving relegated Harbin Yiteng shortly after the season concluded and it now looks as though he will be facing his former side in League One as he has announced his intention to sign for Beijing Baxy.
A series of issues meant that the former Beijing Guoan midfielder was unable to register with a club in time for the opening of either the 2013 or 2014 seasons and he was picked up by the struggling Harbin this summer. Immediately made captain, Yan performed very well and helped galvanise the team into a mini-revival which ultimately proved fruitless. Despite failing to keep Yiteng up, it looked like Yan had done enough to justify a spot in a Super League squad for 2015 and many presumed that was why he had sought to leave the ice city for pastures new.
However, it now seems that he will return to the capital where he previously spent seven years as a player and will join a team earmarked for significant investment and a serious push for promotion. The appeal of returning to Beijing and leading a side to the top flight is obvious, but it seems a shame that a player with the quality of Yan will spend another year outside of top flight football when the 28-year-old has already wasted a significant portion of a promising career.