A lot has been written recently about the problems that have engulfed the Chinese Super League over the past few months. And it’s certainly fair to say that the new financial uncertainty has led to Chinese clubs being much more conservative in the transfer market this off-season.
The league’s new foreign signings reflect this, with players now mostly being brought in from teams in South America and East Asia as opposed to the big European leagues.
That being said there have been plenty of exciting new players who have joined the CSL this year and a number of interesting moves within the league itself. So now let’s take a look at the top ten Chinese Super League transfers that have taken place so far in 2021.
GD Alvarenga to Guangzhou City
Guangzhou City have brought in Brazilian playmaker Guilherme as they look to re-tool their attack following the departures of Israeli forwards Dia Saba and Eran Zahavi.
Best known for his five year spell with Lega Warsaw, Guilherme’s, has most recently been plying his trade with Goztepe in the Turkish Super Lig. A creative attacking midfielder with a high level of technical ability he’ll be hoping to make a splash at Guangzhou City.
#9 Ante Majstorovic
NK Osijek to Shanghai Port
Majstorovic’s move to Shanghai Port will see him play outside of his home county of Croatia for the first time. And it may take him some time to adjust to Chinese football when the league begins. Were it not for this he would probably rank much higher on the list.
An extremely experienced centre-back who at the age of 27 has already managed to clock up 250 professional appearances. Majstorovic is both strong and good in the air and will likely take the place of the recently departed Shi Ke at the heart of Shanghai Port’s defence.
#8 Erik Lima
Palmeiras to Changchun Yatai
Erik is one of a number of foreign strikers that newly promoted Changchun have brought in this winter. These signings suggest that the club’s management are not expecting last season’s China League One top scorer Tan Long to be able to replicate the same level of production in the CSL this year.
Erik joined Changchun from Palmeiras but for the last two seasons he was out on loan to Yokohama F. Marinos, where he proved himself to be a reliable goalscorer in the J1 League.
Foreign players who move from the J1 League to the Chinese Super League generally make a smooth transition and we should expect to see the Brazilian finding the net on a regular basis in the upcoming season.
#7 Christian Bassogog
Henan Songshan Longmen to Shanghai Shenhua
A versatile attacking player who can play either out wide or in a more central role, Bassogog has plenty of experience of playing in the CSL having spent four years with Henan prior to joining Shenhua.
This experience should make him something of a plug-in and play signing who won’t need time to acclimatise to the league.
Shenhua struggled at times for goals last year and they will be hoping that the Cameroonian forward’s pace and attacking flair will provide a vital new dimension to Shenhua’s attack.
#6 Matej Jonjic
Cerezo Osaka to Shanghai Shenhua
Shenhua were pretty solid at the back last year, but Jonjic will still be an excellent addition to the squad. The 30 year old Croatian centre-back takes sixth place on the list mainly due to his extensive experience playing in East Asia. Having made over made over 200 appearances in the Japanese and Korean top tiers over the past six years.
Shenhua will no doubt be hoping that he can pass some of this experience on to youngster Zhu Chenjie. Zhu is currently one of the top young talents in the Chinese game, and having the opportunity to pair up at centre-back with someone like Jonjic should really help his development.
#5 Dilmurat Mawlanniyaz
Chongqing Liangjiang Athletic to Shenzhen
Henan were a shambles defensively for much of last season and have made a number of moves to resolve the problem this off-season. One of these moves is the signing of right-back Dilmurat Mawlanniyaz from Chongqing.
One of the best Chinese full-backs playing today, Mawlanniyaz is known for his excellent positional sense, high work rate and solid tackling. While Henan have spent quite a bit to bring him to the province, he should be a sound investment. It’s expected that he will immediately go into the starting line-up and should be a mainstay in the team for years to come.
#4 Shi Ke
Shanghai Port to Shandong Taishan
Last year Shandong struggled to find a steady centre-back pairing and suffered defensively as a result.
New manager Hao Wei will be confident that new signing Shi Ke will be able to help resolve this issue. The Chinese international is a CSL veteran with almost two-hundred top flight appearances under his belt and was a stalwart in Shanghai Port’s 2018 title winning campaign.
At twenty-eight he still has plenty of mileage left in him and the athletic centre-back should slot straight into Taishan’s starting eleven.
#3 Juan Fernando Quintero
River Plate to Shenzhen
An extremely technically gifted attacking midfielder, the Columbian has spent most of his career in South America and was playing for Argentine giants River Plate prior to joining Shenzhen.
Outside of his native continent, he is best known for his free-kick against Japan in the 2018 World Cup, which finished as runner-up for goal of the tournament. Since the World Cup however Quintero has somewhat struggled for form and had his career severely disrupted by a cruciate ligament rupture in 2019.
Quintero has since recovered from the injury and if he is able to rediscover his form of a few year years ago he could become one of the Chinese Super League’s standout players.
#2 Son Jun-ho
Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors to Shandong Taishan
A hardworking and tough tackling holding midfielder who can also get forward and create chances, Son played an instrumental role in Jeonbuk’s recent dominance of the K League.
While Son has never managed to secure a move to Europe, his contributions to Jeonbuk’s success over the past few years haven’t gone unnoticed in Korea. With him recently becoming a regular in the South Korean national team squad as well as being awarded the 2020 K League 1 MVP.
While not as big a name as the likes of Quintero. Son takes the number two spot as he is certain to be a key player for Shandong next season and will add some real steel to their midfield.
#1 Junior Negrao
Ulsan Hyundai to Changchun Yatai
First place might seem like quite a high ranking for a 34 year old striker who has never played in Europe and is unproven in China. But Changchun’s Negrao signing secures the number one spot due to the Brazilian’s prolific goalscoring record in Korea over past few years.
Last year Negrao finished the season as top scorer in K League 1 with 26 goals in 27 games and as joint top scorer in the AFC Champions League with seven goals in nine games, including a brace in Ulsan’s 2-1 win in the final.
If Negrao can pick up where he left off last year he could prove to be one of the signings of the season.