Last week,Tianjin Teda signed midfielder Sun Ke from Jiangsu Sainty for RMB66 million, blowing away the previous transfer record of RMB50 million for Yu Hai. Despite Sun previously stating that he’d be more willing to be a bench player on Jiangsu than start elsewhere, it seems in the face of such a major offer, money talks.
There are a number of oddities to the deal, namely Tianjin’s new sponsor (who gives the club it’s new official name), Quanjian Natural Medicine, don’t seem to have talked much with the people in the club regarding the move. Quanjian is rumored to want to purchase Teda in its entirety and it seems they are in charge of paying Sun (or at least his transfer fee) separately from Teda.
Beyond those oddities, there’s the fact that no matter who it was, someone paid $10.6 million for Sun Ke. Granted, Sun is in the prime of his career, nearing 26 years old, and is a regular starter for the national team, that amount of money is just craziness. Sun’s in his fifth year as a regular starter, he was one of the most important players for Jiangsu the past few seasons, but he’s not a scoring threat, never contributing more than four league goals a year. As a comparison, the three Yu’s (Hai, Hanchao, and Dabao) all have put up very similar statistics to Sun (though all are a year (Dabao) or two (Hai & Hanchao) older) and all cost substantially less.
It is still unclear if this was just Quanjian trying to make a name for itself and is thus an anomaly or if it represents yet another bump (bubble?) in the ever rising domestic transfer market. I’m leaning toward anomaly on this one, Sun is likely to be the biggest name to move this summer and most other domestic moves will be for far lower numbers. Wu Lei is probably the only player who may be able to attract more, but he’s likely happy with his situation at SIPG and few teams have the kind of money to make a serious bid for him.
Tianjin’s willingness to spend big despite the likely lack of return on investment that will come from their purchase shows how, in the wacky world of the transfer market, the CSL’s is the weirdest of them all.