CSL Transfer Round-up – Part 2: Suning’s record Teixeira signing grabs headlines as more foreign talent comes into the league
Yesterday we looked at what last season’s top eight have been up to in the transfer window, but things have really been busy with teams who finished lower down the pyramid. Jiangsu Suning and Hebei CFFC continue to spend astronomical sums and the former have broken the Chinese transfer record to bring in Alex Teixeira. There’s been a fair amount of movement elsewhere, though, involving veterans, youngsters and plenty more foreign imports. This article includes confirmed moves which took place between January 29th and February 15th.
In: – Electronics giants Suning have continued to put their money where there mouth is since taking over Jiangsu at the end of last season. Having already broken the Chinese transfer record to bring Ramires in from Chelsea for over £20 million pounds, the Nanjing club did it again when they stunned the world by throwing down €50 million for Shakhtar Donetsk’s Alex Teixeira.
The 26-year-old attacking midfielder has been on fire this season, scoring 22 times in just fifteen Ukrainian Premier League games, and had been strongly linked with Premier League powerhouses Liverpool and Chelsea before making the move east. According to Shakhtar’s general director Sergiy Palkin, Liverpool had bid an unsatisfactory €32 million for the Brazilian.
The club had been keen to hold on to Teixeira until the summer, or at least until his staggering €70 mllion buyout clause was met, but Suning’s €50 million offer proved too tempting. Some have perceived this as a landmark move given that a Chinese team successfully out-maneuvered a Premier League club to gain a highly sought after player’s signature. The long term consequences of Teixeira’s signing remain to be seen, but on the field he will no doubt make Jiangsu a force to be reckoned with.
Having moved to Donetsk at the age of 20, Teixeira appears to be coming into his prime and was seen as a shoe-in to become a regular Brazil international had he moved to one of Europe’s big leagues. A transfer to Nanjing may scupper his international future, but it has certainly gotten both him and the Chinese Super League plenty of attention.
Teixeira will be joined in the Jiangsu attack by compatriot Jo who, despite being just two years older than his new teammate, seems to have been around forever. Indeed, for all the criticism Teixeira is receiving for taking the easy option in coming to China, Jo is a cautionary tale that a move to one of the big European leagues does not guarantee success.
The striker is best known for a disappointing stint at Manchester City who signed him for around £18 million pounds from CSKA Moscow. Just 21 at the time, Jo never settled in the northwest of England and was back in Brazil by the age of 24, having had loan spells at Everton and Galatasaray.
Jo partially restored his reputation after returning to his homeland and even earned a recall to the Brazil squad for the 2013 Confederations Cup. That came five years after his last appearance for the national team and he maintained his place in the squad until the end of the 2014 World Cup. After spending half a season with Emirati club Al-Shabab, Jo arrives in Nanjing for the far less eye-catching fee of €2 million.
Suning have also been splashing the cash on domestic talent and have brought in young attacking players Xie Pengfei and Yang Jiawei to bolster their options. The 22-year-old Xie signs from Hangzhou Greentown and 24-year-old Yang arrives from Shanghai Shenxin.
Like a lot of young Chinese attackers, Xie can play anywhere across the attacking midfield three and has also filled in as a centre forward from time to time. He was a member of the Chinese Olympic team who recently performed poorly at the Asian Under-23 Championships. As his near ¥30 million price tag suggests, Xie comes highly rated, although he does have a tendency to try and do too much by himself.
Yang, meanwhile, comes in for a fee which nearing ¥50 million after suffering relegation with Shenxin last season. Generally a right winger, Yang has electric pace and is not afraid to run at defenders, although his decision making can be poor. He has been touted as the successor to Chinese international Sun Ke who left Jiangsu for Tianjin Quanjian earlier in the window.
Out: – The addition of Teixeira and Jo has meant more foreign players need to be cleared out and it has been confirmed that Solvi Ottesen and Sergio Escudero will be departing the club. Icelandic international centre back Ottesen made 31 league and CFA Cup appearances last season, but will play for League One club Wuhan Zall in 2016.
Escudero had a decent debut season in Jiangsu, managing six goals and ten assists from the wing in league and cup games, but the arrival of Teixeira has made him surplus to requirements. The 27-year-old Japanese passport holder is yet to find a new club.
A final, less significant, exit is Xinjiang born attacking midfielder Bari Mamatil who moves to League One club Qingdao Huanghai. The 27-year-old barely featured last season and it is no surprise to see him move on given Suning’s investment in attacking areas.
In: – Changchun’s only movement since our last update has been to introduce veteran defensive midfielder Darko Matic to their squad. The 35-year-old Croat is about to embark on his tenth season in the Super League, having spent the last seven with Beijing Guo’an, and will add some steel to Yatai’s midfield.
Out: – No outgoings in recent weeks.
In: – No new additions for the cash-strapped Zhejiang club.
Out: – Hangzhou’s only major loss has been Xie Pengfei who, as highlighted above, has made a big money move to Jiangsu Suning. One of the bigger successes of the youth revolution Hangzhou have been embarking upon over the last couple of years, the under-23 international made 20 league appearances last season, scoring four goals.
The only other confirmed exit is that of young Gambian international Steve who has made a permanent move to Yanbian Funde. The 21-year-old switched to Hangzhou last winter, but has never actually played for the club having spent the whole of 2015 on loan at the League One champions.
In: – Liaoning’s only move in recent weeks came when they signed Australian forward James Troisi a couple of days after our last update. The 27-year-old recently exited Saudi club Ittihad after a dispute over unpaid wages and had been touted for a move back to the A-League before Liaoning swooped in for him.
The Australian international scored the winning goal in last year’s Asian Cup final and has played in Italy, Turkey and Belgium in recent years. Interestingly, it seems as though Liaoning, traditionally one of the Super League’s more impoverished clubs, were able to offer higher wages than any of their A-League counterparts. This prompted some in the foreign media to describe the northeastern club as “big spending” a term which has seldom been used for Whowin before.
While this was probably just a conflation of Liaoning with other, far wealthier Chinese counterparts, it does demonstrate that the vast riches of a few haves are trickling down to the have-nots. Liaoning recently bagged ¥120 million Yuan from the sales of Zhang Lu and Ding Haifeng and, while the acquisition of Troisi is hardly earth shattering, it seems shows that some of China’s less fortunate clubs are benefiting from the excesses of their wealthier rivals.
Out: – Nobody has left Liaoning since our last update.
In: – It’s been all go in Tianjin this year where TEDA have gotten busy in the transfer market just as activity at their wealthy crosstown rivals Quanjian has slowed down. The side who narrowly avoided relegation last season have added four new foreigners and two young Chinese players to their line-ups, as well as letting talismanic striker Hernan Barcos depart.
TEDA’s biggest signing is that of Colombian attacker Fredy Montero who arrives from Portuguese club Sporting. The 28-year-old spent four years with Major League Soccer club Seattle Sounders before moving to Sporting where he scored 37 times in 94 appearances. Montero cost TEDA €5 million with Barcos going the other way as part of a deal that will be discussed further below.
Montero will be joined in TEDA’s attack by Senegalese striker Mbaye Diagne who moves from Hungarian club Ujpest. The 24-year-old scored eleven times in just fourteen appearances for the Budapest based team and comes in for a fee of around €2 million.
TEDA have also picked up two foreign centre backs in the shape of Mozambique international Zainadine Junior and Australian Aleksander Jovanovic. Junior comes from Portuguese club Nacional, while Jovanovic last plied his trade in South Korea with Jeju United.
In addition to the foreign players, TEDA have also sought to get around increased domestic transfer fees by bringing in two 23-year-olds from Portugal. Centre back Pang Ximing returns to Tianjin after spending a season with Leixoes, while winger Guo Yi comes in from the same club having been in Portugal since 2010.
Although he didn’t participate in the recent Asian Under-23 Championships, Guo has represented China’s younger sides on several occasions and was the only Chinese player to score at last summer’s Toulon Tournament.
Out: – While the days of Brazilian centre back Lucas Fonseca look numbered, the only confirmed departure since out last update is that of Barcos. The decision to give the Argentinian hitman and €5 million to Sporting seems like a strange one given that he ended last season as the team’s captain and was the main reason Tianjin avoided relegation. As well as his fifteen strikes, the 31-year-old provided ten assists last year meaning he was involved in nearly two-thirds of all of TEDA’s goals in 2015. Montero certainly has some big shoes to fill.
In: – None.
Out: – R&F haven’t made any more moves since our last update, but they are sure to bring in another foreign player before the window closes given that strikers Jeremy Bokila and Aaron Samuel have both left the club on loan. Bokila has moved to Turkish club Ekiseherispor having managed just four goals during his underwhelming half season in Guangzhou.
Samuel, meanwhile, moves to Russian giants CSKA Moscow after a disappointing 2015. The 21-year-old burst on to the scene in the summer of 2014 by scoring eight goals in the end of season run-in and subsequently winning his first caps for Nigeria. But last year he was often shunted from the centre forward position to the wing and only made eighteen league appearances in a poor season which reflected the struggles of the club.
Goalkeeper Liu Dianzuo has also moved on after just a single season with R&F. The 25-year-old is moving to city rivals Guangzhou Evergrande after failing to to truly establish himself as R&F’s number one. Liu moved from Shanghai Shenxin with a view to permanently replacing Cheng Yuelei, but he failed to show consistency and will now back up Zeng Cheng at Tianhe.
In: – Yanbian have confirmed a couple of key signings in recent weeks, although both of them were expected. Gambian winger Steve made his year long loan move from Hangzhou Greentown permanent thanks to a fee of around €800,000 and midfielder Chi Zhongguo returns to the club after spending a single season with Shanghai Shenxin.
Steve made himself one of the stars of League One last season by banging in 17 goals (including an incredible rabona) and providing 7 assists as Yanbian cantered to the championship. At only 21, the international will keep getting better and could be one of the surprise stars of the CSL this season.
Understandably not wanting to play in the third tier, Chi left his native Yanbian when they were relegated from League One at the end of 2014 season, only to see them reinstated to the second division, win promotion to the Super League and pass Shenxin who were going the other way. Chi was one of Shenxin’s better players in a turgid 2015 and it apparently cost Yanbian over ¥10 million to bring back a player who left for free just a year ago
A final signing is 22-year-old goalkeeper Dong Jialin who arrives from Shanghai SIPG. As Yanbian have already filled their quota of five domestic signings, Dong will have to spend 2016 in the reserves but, having trained under SIPG’s highly regarded goalkeeping coach Ian Walker, the youngster could be one for the future.
Out: – Nobody has moved on since our last update.
In: – They’ve been very busy in Qinhuangdao over the last couple of weeks with a big turnover of foreign players taking place. Foremost among them is Cameroon captain Stephane Mbia who comes in from Trabzonspor for a reported fee of around €4 million.
The centre back and defensive midfielder, who turns 30 this year, has only been in Turkey for half a season, having previously played for Sevilla where he won back-to-back Europa League trophies. Interestingly, the veteran, who has played in two World Cups, has actually played competitive football in Hebei’s Olympic Stadium having represented Cameroon at the 2008 Olympics. He even scored the winning goal in their 1-0 victory over Honduras at the ground.
Joining Mbia will be French winger Gael Kakuta and Turkish international centre back Ersan Gulum. 24-year-old Kakuta spent nine years on the books at Chelsea before departing for Sevilla last summer, although he only made six appearances for the London club having spent the vast majority of his time out on loan. Hebei paid €5 million for the Frenchman who turned out just five times for Sevilla.
At €7 million, the fee for Gulum is even higher. The 28-year-old leaves Besiktas after six seasons with the Istanbul club and will count as Hebei’s Asian player by virtue of his Australian passport. Hebei are also apparently very close to signing Paris Saint-Germain’s Argentinian international Ezequiel Lavezzi, but we will report on that when it is confirmed.
Out: – With all these comings, there are bound to be some goings and all four of the foreigners who helped the club achieve promotion last season will be moving on. Brazilian striker Edu scored twelve goals in just 15 appearances after arriving last summer, but that wasn’t enough for the gifted 34-year-old to avoid the chop and his availability will no doubt put clubs across Asia on notice.
Serbian playmaker Nenad Milijas has already found a new home and will return to League One next season with Inner Mongolian club Hohhot Zhongyou. The 32-year-old had a tendency to drift out of games last season, but when he’s on form his set piece deliveries and long passes are the best in China’s second tier.
Miroslav Radovic ends a frustrating year in Hebei by moving to Slovenian club NK Olympija. The Serbian attacking midfielder was expected to be one of League One’s top player’s last season after impressing in the Polish top flight with Legia Warsaw. However, he only managed five games before injuring his knee ligaments and missing the rest of the year.
Norwegian striker Ibba Laajab is also on his way after scoring just seven goals in 30 games last season. The 30-year-old wasn’t helped by being pushed out to the wing following the arrival of Edu, but he is clearly below the caliber of foreign player Hebei are currently looking at.
Author: Jamie McIlroy
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.