Final CSL Transfer Update – Part 2: Last adjustments made as Hebei flash the cash

With the Super League season about to kick off, WEF offers you its final transfer round-up of the season. Having looked at what teams who finished in last year’s top half got up to, it’s now time to look at how the rest of the CSL has been making its final preparations for the upcoming season. This is a list of moves made between our last update and the closing of the transfer window on February 26th. 

Jiangsu Suning

In: – Having got plenty done earlier in the transfer window, Jiangsu have only made one new edition in the shape of defensive midfielder Li Zhichao. The 27-year-old had a a solid season with Henan Jianye last year and his ¥15 million edition adds depth to the Suning midfield.

Out: – No earth shattering departures, but it is worth mentioning that 36-year-old Lu Bofei has retired after seven years in Jiangsu. The 36-year-old won the Super League title with Shenzhen Jianlibao all the way back in 2004, but he’s calling time on his career after spending the majority of the last two years on the bench.

Changchun Yatai

In: – The northeastern club have managed to fill their foreign player quote by picking up Julien Gorius and Ognjen Ozegovic before the transfer window closed. 30-year-old French midfielder Gorius has been plying his trade in Belgium since 2005 and arives from Belgian Pro League club Genk.

Ozegovic, meanwhile, is a young Serbian striker that has been picked up from FK Vojvodina. The 21-year-old could be an interesting prospect having been a member of the Serbia’s victorious Under-19 European Championship squad in 2013, and he has struck nine goals in 26 appearances for Vojvodina this season, including two against Italian club Sampdoria in the Europa League.

Out: – Gorius and Ozegovic arrived after it had already been confirmed that attacker Moussa Maazou was departing the club after a single season. The Niger international bagged six goals in 26 appearances last year, but he has moved to Danish club Randers FC in time for the new season.

Elsewhere, Liu Weidong has permanently departed for Chongqing Lifan after spending 2015 on loan there. It is also worth noting three players who are conspicuous by their absence from Changchun’s final 30-man Super League squad. Li Xiaoting, who was a regular starter on loan at Harbin Yiteng in 2015, midfielder Zhu Yifan and right-back Ma Xiaolei are all players who may have been expected to feature in some capacity for Yatai this season.

Hangzhou Greentown

In: – Having seen their wealthier CSL rivals spend the winter making signings which catch the international eye, Hangzhou decided to get in on the act by picking up veteran Australian forward Tim Cahill. Having had his recently renewed contract broken by Shanghai Shenhua, an act that apparently cost the club $4 million, the 36-year-old Australian international has been picked up on a six month contract.

Bare knuckled corner flag fighter Tim Cahill is coming to play in Hangzhou

Bare knuckled corner flag boxer Tim Cahill is coming to play in Hangzhou

Cahill has been a busy boy in recent weeks, hosting a fashion show for his clothing line and getting into a spat with Football Federation Australia, but his on field commitment is never in doubt. The former Everton man should provide plenty of leadership, but the length of his contract suggests his stay in Zhejiang could be a fleeting one.

Hangzhou have also added Brazilian attacker Denilson Gabionetta to their ranks after picking him up from Italian Serie B club Salernitana. Hangzhou will be the ninth club the 30-year-old has played for and we will have to wait and see whether he has been brought in to start or provide back up for the other foreign players.

Domestically, Hangzhou have picked up centre back Chen Xiao from newly promoted side Yanbian Fude. The 28-year-old only started ten games last season and, perhaps ominously, was a regular during the 2014 season when Yanbian were relegated from League One with a record low points total of eighteen. Still, Hangzhou are light on centre backs and Chen has likely been brought in to provide cover.

Greentown have also acquired 35-year-old goalkeeper Liu Yang from relegation rivals Liaoning Whowin.

Out: – To make room for Gabionetta and Cahill, the club has decided to leave striker Anslemo Ramon out of their squad. The Brazilian netted 28 times in his two seasons with Greentown, but the club has elected to retain the services of Ivorian winger Davy Claude Angan, meaning their is no place for Ramon in the squad.

It’s also worth noting that 21-year-old attacking midfielder Cheng Jin will spend a further year on loan with League One club Wuhan Zall after impressing during his half season spell their last year.

Liaoning Whowin

In: – Liaoning made some late domestic signings, but nothing to stir a great deal of excitement among the local faithful. The most interesting arrival is that of attacker Lei Yongchi who comes in from Henan Jianye. Lei didn’t make much of an impression during his year in Zhengzhou, but he was a regular for the now defunct Shenyang Zhongze in 2014 and his move to Liaoning sees him return to that city.

Liaoning have also picked up two goalkeepers in the shape of Zhang Xunwei and Liu Weiguo. Zhang comes in from relegated club Shanghai Shenxin after being dropped just a few games into last season, while Liu is a young loanee from Guangzhou Evergrande.

27-year-old centre back Lu Qiang has followed Lei Yongchi from Henan Jianye. However, he hasn’t started a game in two years despite Henan playing with a five man back line, which perhaps illustrates that he won’t see much action in Liaoning.

Out: – Veteran goalkeeper Liu Yang‘s move to Hangzhou Greentown is the club’s only recent transfer worth noting.

Tianjin TEDA

In: – No new arrivals in a transfer window that has seen TEDA fail to sign a single Chinese player over the age of 23.

Out: – Attacker Zhou Liao has been allowed to return to his home town club Wuhan Zall after failing to score a single league goal during four years of sporadic appearances with TEDA. In another Wuhan connection, former Zall midfielder Sang Yifei will spend at least the first half of this season’s in Hebei CFFC‘s reserves after moving to Qinhuangdao despite the club already having maxed out its transfer quota of five domestic players.

Guangzhou R&F

In: – R&F rounded out their transfer window by signing Greek Australian striker Apostolous Giannou from Asteras Tripoli for 2.5 million. The 26-year-old has had a breakout season this year, bagging thirteen goals in 21 league appearances and earning his first cap for the Greek national team during a friendly match in November. However, the Melbourne born hitman has recently declared a desire to represent his country of birth at international level and so we could soon see him turn out for the Socceroos.

The Canton side have also picked up midfielder Hou Junjie from Shanghai Shenxin despite the fact that the 22-year-old didn’t play a single first team game in 2015.

Out: – Under-23 international centre back Jin Yanyang has departed to Hebei CFFC for a fee that had been reported to be as high as ¥80 million. That price, which has since been revised down, would have made Jin the most expensive player in Chinese history and, even for a lower fee, its no surprise that R&F accepted Hebei’s offer.

The 23-year-old was purchased for a small fraction of that cost from Dalian Aerbin just a year ago and, while he no doubt has great potential, the defender hardly covered himself in glory as China capitulated in January’s Under-23 Asian Championships.

One player who won’t be joining Jin in Hebei is Zhang Yuan who, despite earlier reports suggesting the contrary, has not transferred to CFFC. Instead, the winger, who spent a few games filling in at right-back last season, will spend 2016 on loan at Beijing Renhe.

Yanbian Funde

In: – Yanbian got all their business done early and so they’ve made no further moves this winter.

Out: – Their only departure is centre back Chen Xiao who moves to potential relegation rivals Hangzhou Greentown. Chen was a regular fixture in the 2014 team that was relegated from League One, but was sidelined in favour of Zhao Ming who partnered Cui Min last season. With the arrival of Serbian Nikola Petrovic and Han Xuan from Beijing BG, it’s no great shock that the club has allowed Chen to move on.

Hebei CFFC

In: – Of all the Super League clubs, newly promoted Hebei have been the most active since our last update. And there is no doubt that it’s the signing of Ezequiel Lavezzi which has really made people stand up and take notice of the Qinhuangdao club.

The Argentinian international had fallen out of favour at Paris Saint-Germain since compatriot Angel Di Maria moved to the French capital last summer and, with the winger’s contract due to expire at the end of PSG’s season, it was clear that his time in Ligue 1 was coming to an end. The transfer fee Hebei paid to CFFC wasn’t especially outlandish, but what really makes Lavezzi’s move stand out are his reported £400,000-a-week wages.

Lavezzi may be 30, but he is far from over the hill, as the fact that he has started Argentina’s last three internationals testifies too. The former Napoli star has also suggested that clubs such as Manchester United and Chelsea were interested in signing him before stating that the financial incentives of coming to China, along with the obligatory references to culture and developing the game, were too much to turn down.

That statement may make traditionalists view Lavezzi as a mercenary who thinks very highly of himself but, if its true, it clearly demonstrates that Hubei have got themselves a player that is a cut above the vast majority of those playing in China.

Alongside Lavezzi, Hebei’s signing of centre back Jin Yangyang from Guangzhou R&F. Under normal circumstances, the signing of an unpolished 23-year-old centre back wouldn’t attract much attention, but a fee reported to be as high as ¥80 million makes this a signing that may be as much about flexing financial muscle as building for the future.

Dong Xuesheng scoring for Guangzhou Evergrande

Dong Xuesheng scoring for Guangzhou Evergrande

The club also picked up centre forward Dong Xuesheng from Guangzhou Evergrande. Dong’s appearances have been rare since a brief and prolific run in the first team ended in May 2014, but the former Shanghai Shenhua man could prove a valuable asset for a Hebei side that haven’t signed any foreigners who are out and out strikers. Conventional wisdom about Chinese teams suggests Hebei will shoehorn either Lavezzi or Gervinho into the centre forward role but, should fellow new signing Jiang Ning not be seen as suitable for the role, it’s possible Hebei could replicate Yang Xu’s role at Shandong Luneng by sticking Dong in the middle with a foreign winger either side.

Hebei have also acquired midfielder Li Hang from Wuhan Zall for the outrageous price of around ¥15 million. The 26-year-old was a key part of Wuhan’s promotion season in 2012 and had a decent 2014, but looked like a below average League One midfielder last season. His former manager Zheng Bin is now an assistant to Li Tie at Hebei and this may have had something to do with the move.

The club has also added squad depth by signing 20-year-old centre back Gao Zhunyi and 21-year-old goalkeeper Zhou Yuchen on loan from Shandong Luneng.

Out: – The only confirmed departure worth reporting is that of Hao Shuang. The centre back was a first team regular at the beginning of last season but lost his place and he will now return to League One with Hunan Billows.

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.

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