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CSL Transfer Update – Part 1: Martinez Evergrande move stands out as domestic players stay put

It’s been a little over two weeks since our last transfer round-up and it is time to look at all the moves which have taken place between then and now. Things tend to slow down a bit over the Chinese New Year but there has still been plenty to talk about with Jackson Martinez’s move to Guangzhou Evergrande stealing the spotlight. This is a list of confirmed transfers which have taken place between January 27th and February 14th involving teams that finished in the top half of last year’s Super League. Part two, involving the rest of the clubs and some massive transfer fees, will be published tomorrow.

Guangzhou Evergrande

In: – After making a slow start in this year’s transfer window, the Super League champions made a massive splash when they picked up Colombian international striker Jackson Martinez for €42 million. Given that it was paid for a 29-year-old who has scored just three time in 22 appearances for Atletico Madrid this season, the fee raised eyebrows around the world and was, briefly, a Chinese transfer record until it was usurped by Jiangsu Suning’s €50 million signing of Alex Teixeira (included in tomorrow’s report).

However, while the price is no doubt dramatically inflated, it shouldn’t be forgotten that Martinez was one of the most highly coveted strikers in Europe last summer after a stunning season with Porto in which he scored 32 time in 42 appearances, including seven Champions League goals as the Portuguese club progressed to the quarter-finals of Europe’s premier club competition. That prompted Atletico to hand over €35 million for the Colombian last July and, while Martinez certainly had a difficult half season in the Spanish capital, he could be a dominant force in China and the AFC Champions League if he can recapture the form he displayed with Porto.

New Evergrande signing Liu Dianzuo in Champions League action for R&F against Gamba Osaka

New Evergrande signing Liu Dianzuo in Champions League action for R&F against Gamba Osaka

Evergrande’s only other addition since our last update is the acquisition of goalkeeper Liu Dianzuo from city rivals R&F. The 25-year old spent just a single season at Yuexiushan after moving from Shanghai Shenxin the previous winter, but he failed to establish himself as a consistent starter in the blue and white part of Guangzhou.

Liu has been brought in to replace Li Shuai, who earlier moved to Shanghai Shenhua, as back-up to established number one Zeng Cheng. However, with Zeng’s 2015 being bookended by injures which saw him miss seven games near the beginning of the season and the entirety of December’s Club World Cup, the importance of a reliable back-up is obvious. Whether Liu can develop into a long term replacement for the 29-year-old Zeng is a different matter.

Out: – After making headlines last month by letting Elkeson move to title rivals Shanghai SIPG, things have been quiet on the departure front. The only exit we haven’t previously reported on being centre back Yi Teng‘s loan move to relegated club Beijing Renhe. It’s the 25-year-old’s third temporary departure since signing for Evergrande from Shenzhen FC three years ago.

Shanghai SIPG

In: – With their five foreign spots filled and the movement of top end domestic players slowing down this year thanks to inflated prices, SIPG’s only winter signing to date remains that of Elkeson. SIPG’s season is actually already under way as they defeated Thai club Muangthong United 3-0 last week to qualify for the group stages of the AFC Champions’ League, so we may not see them do much more before the transfer window closes in two weeks.

Out: – Not much is going on the other way either, with only goalkeeper Dong Jialin departing the club in recent weeks. The 22-year-old makes a less than glamorous move to the reserve team of newly promoted Yanbian Funde.

Shandong Luneng

In: – Luneng’s season started even earlier than SIPG’s with a 6-0 win over Indian club Mohun Bagan in a Champions League qualifying round on February 2nd followed by a trip to Australia which saw them grab an impressive 2-1 victory over Adelaide United and secure entry into the group stages of the continental competition for the third year in a row. All this means that the club has been inactive on the transfer front in recent weeks and may not do an awful lot more before the window closes.

Urso celebrates scoring a goal n his debut for Shandong back in 2014

Urso celebrates scoring a goal n his debut for Shandong back in 2014

Out: – Indeed, Luneng’s only move since our last update has been to confirm that midfielder Junior Urso will not represent them in 2016. The addition of centre back Gil meant that one of Luneng’s South American contingent would be on their way out and with Aloisio winning last season’s golden boot, a now fully fit Walter Montillo hitting top form and Jucilei qualifying as an Asian player thanks to a Palestinian passport, it was always going to be a toss-up between Urso and Diego Tardelli as to who got the boot.

Despite Tardelli underwhelming last season, the decision has been made to let Urso leave after two years in Jinan and the energetic box-to-box midfielder will spend 2016 on loan with Atletico Minero in his native Brazil.

Beijing Guo’an

In: – No new arrivals in the capital since our last report.

Out: – It seems that the club have let youngster Ba Dun move to newly promoted League One club Meizhou Kejia where he spent the second part of last season on loan. Otherwise, nobody else has exited Guo’an in recent weeks.

Henan Jianye

Osman Sow will swap Edinburgh for Zhengzhou after moving to Henan Jianye

Osman Sow will swap Edinburgh for Zhengzhou after moving to Henan Jianye

In: – After picking up Australian Ryan McGowan from Dundee United, Jianye have once again looked to Scotland by signing Swedish attacker Osman Sow for £1.5 million from Hearts. The 25-year-old was one of the stars of Hearts’ record breaking Scottish Championship win in 2015 and, with his contract set to expire in June, was reportedly attracting interest from local powerhouses Celtic and Rangers.

In the event, Henan have swept in to pick Sow up and bolster their attacking options. The buy seems like small potatoes in comparison to the eye-watering sums being paid for the likes of Jackson Martinez, but Hearts are apparently very happy with the figure.

Out: – McGowan’s arrival meant that the writing was on the wall for South Korean centre back Jung In-whan, and it has been confirmed that the 29-year-old is leaving Zhengzhou for FC Seoul. The former international made 29 league appearances for Henan last season.

Shanghai Shenhua

In: – Just a day after we published our last transfer round-up Shenhua confirmed the signing of Colombian international Fredy Guarin from Inter Milan. The 29-year-old departs the Italian giants with a fee somewhere in the vicinity of €11 million reported to have gone the other way.

The midfielder, who spent four years with Inter, has one over 50 caps for Colombia and, despite missing last year’s Copa America through injury, continues to be a regular in the national team’s squads. Guarin was part of the starting XI which was narrowly beaten by Brazil in the quarter-finals of the 2014 World Cup and moved to Inter after three and a half seasons with Porto.

37-year-old Jiang Kun will continue playing next season with Qingdao Huanghai

37-year-old Jiang Kun will continue playing next season with Qingdao Huanghai

Out: – Guarin’s arrival means that at least one of Shenhua’s foreigners will have to depart and, while Mohamed Sissoko is the favourite to leave, nothing has been confirmed as of yet. One thing that has been settled, though, is that veteran Jiang Kun will not be with the club next season following the expiration of his contract.

The 37-year-old has long been a figure of fun thanks to his less than athletic appearance and, while it is no surprise that he has left the club, it is somewhat of a shock that another team has chosen to sign him. It is League One’s Qingdao Huanghai have opted to pick up the midfielder.

Shijiazhuang Ever Bright

In: – Shijiazhuang got a lot of business done early and, despite still having one foreign player slot free, haven’t made any moves over the last couple of weeks.

Out: – Same goes for exits as the Hebei club had an early clean out.

Chongqing Lifan

In: – Chongqing have signed Croatian centre back Goran Milovic who arrives from from hometown club Hadjuk Split for a fee of €400,000. The 27-year-old stands at 6′ 5” and recently won his first international cap when he came on against Russia in a friendly last November.

That has been Chongqing’s only recent signing, and it is worth noting that Brazilian Jael Ferreira remains with the club despite earlier reports that he had left. Whether or not the winger will still be in Chongqing at the end of the transfer window is a different matter but, at the moment, he is which means that Lifan’s foreign player quota is currently full.

Out: – Since we last reported on Chongqing, it has been confirmed that midfielder Cheng Mouyi and reserve full-back Lv Haidong are both leaving the club on free transfers. Cheng is going to Hangzhou Greentown, while Lv is making the switch to Shenzhen FC.

Veteran midfielder Wu Peng will also be leaving, although his destination has yet to be determined. The 33-year-old has been in Chongqing since 2009 and was a regular in their 2014 promotion season. However, he saw just four minutes of Super League action last season and, if he finds a new club, it is likely to be lower down the league pyramid.

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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