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Winter transfer round-up part 2: All the Chinese Super league moves

With about two weeks to go until the winter transfer window slams shut, this is the second part of our comprehensive transfer round-up featuring the bottom eight teams from last season’s Super League. All transfers are accurate as of February 13th – don’t miss part one which went out yesterday.

Shanghai Shenhua

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Bona Fide Star: Tim Cahill arrives after winning the Asian Cup

Bona Fide Star: Tim Cahill arrives after winning the Asian Cup

By far the biggest transfer movers at the bottom half of the table, Shenhua made international headlines with the signing of veteran Australian Tim Cahill from New York Red Bulls. There is more on the former Everton man’s potential impact here and here and plenty of evidence that, at 35, he’s still got it here. Cahill will be joined at Hongkou by a pair of international centre backs in the shape of Stoppila Sunzu and Avraam Papadopoulos. Zambian African Cup of Nations winner Sunzu arrives from French side Sochaux, while the Greek defender has been acquired from Trabzonspor in Turkey.

Defender Li Jianbin and goalkeeper Geng Xiaofeng arrive from Guangzhou Evergrande and Shandong Luneng, respectively after loan periods with Shenhua over the last couple of years. 29-year-old winger Lv Zheng has followed Geng from Jinan and he will be accompanied at Hongkou by Zhang Lu and Wang Yun. Neither of that pair are highly regarded, but both finished as the top scorers at their respective clubs Henan Jianye and Shanghai Shenxin last season. Some idea of how all these new signing may mesh together can be found in Steve Crook’s North Terrace news 2015 Shenhua preview.

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Hongkou’s exit door has been quieter than in recent years with foreign trio Cho Byung-Kuk, Paolo Andre and Lucas Viatri leading the way out. Aged veteran Xu Liang called time on his career at 33 and the most recent departure is that of Taiwanese international Chen Po-liang who was allowed to leave for Hangzhou Greentown after failing to establish himself in 2014 during his only season with Shenhua.

Liaoning Whowin

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It’s been and uneventful winter for last years’ tenth place finishers. Young Olympic team forward Yang Chaosheng will remain with the squad after extending his six month loan from Guangzhou Evergrande for another year, but that’s the sum of Liaoning’s transfer activity with just two weeks of the window remaining.

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Foreign forwards Kevin Oris and Aleksander Jevtic have both been shipped out following disappointing debut seasons, while reserve goalkeeper Shi Xiaotian has moved to Beijing Guo’an on a one year loan. Otherwise, six fringe players who didn’t appear in 2014 have departed for near neighbors Shenyang Zhongze and goalkeeper Zhu Zilin has made last season’s loan to Inner Mongolia Zhongyou permanent.

Shanghai Shenxin

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Eat China?: Shenxin's new signing's pinyin name has unfortunate connotations

Eat China?: Chi Zhongguo’s pinyin name has unfortunate connotations

In comparison to their two noisy neighbours, Shenxin’s transfer window has been very low key with a heavy dependence on recruitment from the lower leagues. The club took advantage of Yanbian Changbaishan‘s relegation brief hiatus from League One to acquire their captain, Chi Zhongguo, and right winger Cui Ren. The ethnic Koreans are both in the mid-twenties and, particularly in the case of the former, have been courted by Super League teams for quite some time.

Goalkeepers Zhang Xunwei and Zhang Yinuo both join from last season’s League One with the former arriving from Shenzhen FC following a wage dispute with the Guangdong club and the latter coming from Chengdu Tiancheng who have sadly been dissolved following their relegation from the second tier.

International Olympic team striker Chen Hao arrives on a year long loan from Shandong Luneng and he will be joined in the attacking unit by Nigerian Daniel Chima who has been drafted in from Norway. The 23-year-old cost 1.2 million Euros from Molde where he won three league titles in five seasons.

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Shenxin’s biggest losses have been 2014 top scorer Wang Yun and first choice goalkeeper Liu Dianzuo. Wang will remain in the city with Shenhua, while Liu had an impressive 2014 and has already made his competitive debut for new side Guangzhou R&F.

Elsewhere, full back Ge Zhen has been granted a move to Hangzhou Greentown after losing his status as a regular first teamer in 2014 and Brazilian Jailton Paraiba was released after three years with the club, but will remain in China after being picked up by the aforementioned Yanbian Changbaishan. Finally, defender Zhao Zuojun follows the familiar pattern of joining Inner Mongolia Zhongyou on a permanent deal after helping them get promoted from League Two while on loan.

Hangzhou Greentown

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Hungry For Goals: Hangzhou will be hoping that Ramon (eating banana) can match his 2014 scoring exploits

Hungry For Goals: Hangzhou will be hoping that Ramon (eating banana) can match his 2014 scoring exploits

It’s been a pretty tumultuous summer in Zhejiang where the arrival of veteran French Head Coach Phillipe Troussier precipitated a major upheaval in the playing staff. The club’s most important signing was one that almost looked like it wasn’t going to happen – the permanent capture of last season’s 16 goal superstar Anselmo Ramon. After his loan spell ended, the Brazilian returned to Cruzeiro where he looked poised to remain until a $3 million transfer fee convinced the Brazilian champions to allow the 26-year-old to sign a three year contract with Hangzhou.

It is clear that Greentown didn’t expect Ramon to return because they had already filled their 2015 quota of foreign players by the time he signed. A pair of six foot four Tunisians followed Troussier from his previous club, CS Sfaxien, and will play in defence and attack, respectively. Bassem Boulabi is a 30-year-old centre back who has joined Hangzou in a permanent deal, while Imad Louati is a 21-year-old striker who arrives on a one year loan.

Veteran Lebanese midfielder Roda Antar arrives to begin his seventh season in the Super League after five years with Shandong Luneng and a season with Jiangsu Sainty. The final foreign signing is the pleasantly named Gambian striker Steve who comes to Zhejiang fresh from winning his domestic league with Real de Banjul and scooping the country’s golden boot in the process. Unfortunately for the 20-year-old, Greentown have also maintained the services of Ivorian Davy Claude Angan and so the word is that Ramon’s late arrival will force the young Gambian out on loan somewhere.

Domestically, Hangzhou took advantage of the confusion over Chongqing Lifan’s future to poach midfielder Huang Xiyang from Henan Jianye. The 29-year-old, who scored four goals in eighteen appearances last season, looked set to move back to his newly promoted hometown club until its owner balked at the price of competing in the Super League and almost sold it (more on that below). Greentown were able to step into the vacuum and sign Huang up to a two year contract.

Otherwise, Greentown have looked towards Shanghai in order to bolster their squad. Full back Ge Zhen has been recruited from Shenxin while, most recently, Taiwanese international Chen Po-liang has been drafted in from Shenhua. The attacking midfielder didn’t get much of an opportunity at Hongkou after arriving from Shenzhen Ruby last season, and will have a point to prove should he get more playing time in 2015.

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Hangzhou’s exit door has been almost as busy as its entrance with several players moving to pastures new. Foreign trio Luka Zinko, Son Dae-Ho and Gilberto Macena have all left the Yellow Dragon Stadium. Of the three, the latter has been the biggest disappointment after a much hyped move from Shandong Luneng at the end of last season. The Brazilian forward managed just four league goals in 25 games, but may still be seen by Chinese football fans this year as his loan move to Thai champions Burriram United means that he will be in the same Champions League group as Guangzhou R&F should they get through next week’s playoff against Central Coast Mariners.

In terms of Chinese players, Hangzhou took two big hits in the departures of Wang Song and Shi Ke, respectively. Wang pulled Hangzhou’s midfield strings for five years, but has moved on to high flying Guangzhou R&F, while Shi, at 22, is the captain of the Chinese Olympic football team. Wang’s departure will be upsetting for Hangzhou fans, but the long term consequences of Shi’s move to Shanghai SIPG may be worse as the young centre back’s exit will weaken an already struggling defence that shipped a league leading 60 goals last season.

Hangzhou have also allowed Tang Jiashu and Jiang Bo to leave for Beijing BG. Full back, Tang, was on loan at Shenxin last season, while Jiang will reprise his role as the League One outfit’s first choice goalkeeper that he first took up while on loan last season under the team’s previous guise of Beijing Baxy.

Changchun Yatai

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Hernan Barcos retuns to the Super League with Changchun

Hernan Barcos retuns to the Super League with Changchun

Domestically, Changchun delighted their fans by signing old favourite Du Zhenyu from Tianjin TEDA, as well as Shao Shuai and Han Deming from relegated Harbin Yiteng. From abroad, Nigerien Moussa Maazou and Hungarian Akos Elek have come in from Maritimo and Diosgyori VTK, respectively, while former Super League golden boot winner Hernan Barcos returns to China from Gremio. Check out James Reeves’ The North East View for the full lowdown on Changchun.

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Seven of the domestic squad have been released without finding new clubs, while Liu Weidong and Li Xiaoting have been loaned to Chongqing Lifan and Harbin Yiteng, respectively. Veteran centre back Wang Wanpeng was also let go but he will stay in the northeast after securing a move to Dalian Aerbin. There have also been significant upheaval among the foreign playing staff as, 2014 top scorer, Eninho, Fatos Beqiraj and Walter Iglesias have all been let go.

Henan Jianye

Jianye, who survived relegation from last year’s Super League by the skin of their teeth, have undergone a great deal of upheaval in an off-season that has seen them introduce three relatively obscure foreign aids and a quartet of players from League One. Eddi Gomes, Mateusz Zachara and Javier Patino are the trio imported from abroad and they come from a diverse range of backgrounds.

Gomes is a Danish centre back who was born in Guinea-Bissau. He arrives from Danish club Esbjerg fB for a fee of 1.5 million Euros. Zachara is a 24-year-old Polish striker who was plucked from Gornik Zabrze in his native land for 500,000 Euros and Patino is a Philippines international who was purchased from Burriram United for 1 million Euros. The 26-year-old striker is half Spanish and has had some degree of success in Thailand having scored 35 times in two seasons on the way to a pair of league titles.

Moving On: Wuhan Zall's captain, Wu Yan has moved to Henan Jianye

Moving On: Wuhan Zall’s captain, Wu Yan has moved to Henan Jianye

The Zhengzhou side have acquired two goalkeepers in the shape of Guo Chunquan, who started 13 games for Harbin Yiteng in last year’s Super League, and Wu Yan. Wu was one of the stars of Wuhan Zall’s failed promotion chase in 2014 and the 26-year-old has a real shot at following in the footsteps of Evergrande keeper Zeng Cheng who moved from Wuhan to Jianye on his way to becoming one of China’s elite goalkeepers.

Li Zhichao arrives in Zhengzhou on the back of a season that saw him bang in seven goals from midfield for Beijing Baxy BG and 26-year-old Lei Yongchi has departed Shenyang Zhongze after 3 years with his hometown club.

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One Of Many: South Korean defender Lee Ji-nam (17) is one of eighteen first team players leaving Henan

One Of Many: South Korean defender Lee Ji-nam (17) is one of eighteen first team players leaving Henan

Whoever is responsible for Jianye’s paperwork will have had a very busy winter as the team has parted ways with no less than eighteen members of last year’s first team squad. Foreign players Lee Ji-Nam, Ryan Johnson, Nando Rafael and Marques will all be playing their football elsewhere next season. Of the quartet, versatile defender Lee, who moved back to Korea with Jeonnam Dragons will probably the be the most sorely missed, while Marques, who moves to Palmeiras on loan, will always be remembered for a late run of goals last season that helped keep Jianye up.

Of the domestic losses, 2014 top scorer Zhang Lu‘s will be keenly felt. The creative and sometimes erratic winger scored seven Super League goals last season and has accordingly been snapped up by Shanghai Shenhua. Left back, Li Lei, who was injured for much of last season has moved to Beijing Guo’an, midfielder Huang Xiyang has made his way to Hangzhou Greentown and 29-year-old right back Tan Wangsong has exited for Chongqing Lifan.

Of the ten squad members released without moving directly to another team, seven featured in last seasons Super League while two were regular starters. He Bin, Li Zhaonan, Qiao Wei, Zhang Li and Wang Jia’nan all appeared during the sides’ relegation battle, while Zhou Yajun and Zhu Yifan both started over half of Jianye’s league games. Goalkeeper, Zhou, played every game in the first half of the season before being replaced by Han Feng in the second part of the year, but Zhu’s release is perhaps the biggest surprise. The 26-year-old midfielder had been in Henan for two seasons and after a slow start to 2014, looked very competent in the seventeen games in which he started. The former Guo’an player is likely to be picked up by another team sooner rather than later.

Chongqing Lifan

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The biggest “in” for Chongqing is the fact that they are in the Super League at all. After securing promotion as 2014 League One champions, chairman Yin Mingshan suddenly balked at the price of participating in the Super League after a four year absence and looked to sell the club. Uncertainty swarmed around the south west for most of the winter as new buyers were sought and it looked as though the team would either switch location or drop out of the league altogether. Finally, on January 29th, two days before the deadline, Chongqing Lifan officially registered for 2015 and so will compete in this year’s Super League.

Sprightly Young Thing: Sun Jihai in training with his new club

Sprightly Young Thing: Sun Jihai in training with his new club

The backroom furor made it impossible for Chongqing to make any signings and they lost out to hometown midfielder Huang Xiyang as a result. It also appeared as though they were going to miss out on long term target Sun Jihai but, despite strong interest from Dalian Aerbin, Sun showed the kind of patience expected of a man of 37 and made the switch to Lifan after five years with Guizhou Renhe.

The former Manchester City centre back will be joined in defence by Tan Wangsong who arrives from Henan Jianye. Their other two Chinese acquisitions are both loan signings. Attacking midfielder Liu Weidong has made the long trip from Changchun Yatai after failing to appear in the second half of last season and 23-year-old Peng Xinli arrives from Guangzhou Evergrande after two years on loan in the lower leagues.

The most recent signing is that of Brazilian striker Jaja from Metalist Kharkiv. The 28-year-old has been brought in after a second, less successful, spell with the Ukranian club and will join last year’s League One top scorer, Guto, in the Chongqing attack.

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While the moratorium on transfer activity allowed Chongqing to fall behind their rivals in terms of buys, it has also allowed them to keep their entire 2014 squad together with two notable exceptions. The Brazilian duo of Elias and Luiz Eduardo were deemed unworthy of the Super League even before the chairman decided he couldn’t afford to be there. Accordingly, they were both cut loose and have since found clubs in their native land.

Shijiazhuang Ever Bright

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Sticking Together: Many of the squad the got Shijiazhuang promoted remain in place

Sticking Together: Many of the squad the got Shijiazhuang promoted remain in place

In comparison to fellow promoted side Chongqing, Shijiazhuang have had an uneventful winter. The only major change has seen them follow the example of many a Chinese student and get themselves an English name. Shijiazhuang Yongchang are now Shijiazhuang Ever Bright and, after a slow start, the Super League new boys have made some astute signings in preparation for their first ever season in the top flight. Importantly, for a team without much of a budget, all of them have been free.

Zambian international striker Jacob Mulenga has been brought in from Turkish side Adana Demirspor while the Hebei outfit have clearly been studying Super League etiquette by getting themselves a South Korean centre back. 31-year-old former international Cho Yong-hyun arrives from Qatari side Al-Shamal after five seasons in the Qatar Stars League.

Domestically, Ever Bright have focused on experience. Veteran centre back Xu Bo comes in after finding himself increasingly marginalised at a Guangzhou R&F club where he spent his entire career, and 30-year-old goalkeeper Guan Zhen arrives on the back of a season which saw him make 13 starts for Jiangsu Sainty. The midfield will also be bolstered by the arrival of the versatile Li Chunyu who featured in eighteen Super League games for Guizhou Renhe last season.

Finally, Shijiazhuang have taken a chance on 28-year-old Beijing Guo’an attacker Mao Jianqing. After bursting on to the scene as a teenager with Shanghai Shenhua, Mao played in the 2007 Asian Cup but, since leaving Shenhua in 2009, his career has gone progressively down hill and he spent last season on loan at League One Qingdao Jonoon where he scored six goals.

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Much like fellow promotees Chongqing, Shijiazhuang’s outgoings have been scant, with the one significant loss being Bulgarian Emil Gargorov. The 33-year-old only spent six months in Hebei, but he will be forever remembered by Shijiazhuang fans as the player who both won and scored the last minute penalty that earned them their first ever promotion. Otherwise, Shijiazhuang’s losses amount to six squad members whose contracts were not renewed.

Based in China for five years, Jamie has been exploring tiny little third tier Hubei cities without football teams or decent internet connections, but is now a regular at China League One side Wuhan Zall. A keen football afficionado, he regularly takes in the Chinese Super League, enjoying matches in Shanghai, Hangzhou, Guangzhou and Nanjing. Jamie is also a keen observer of the fortunes of the Chinese National side.

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