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Talisca’s creeping farewell from Guangzhou FC

Brazilian playmaker Talisca has finalised his departure from Chinese Super League behemoths Guangzhou FC.

It’s December 1st, 2020. Against the Suwon Bluewings, the then-named Guangzhou Evergrande missed the knockout phase of the AFC Champions League for the first time in the club’s history. After years of success, Guangzhou is on a path of rediscovery. Just a few people suspected that it would be Talisca’s last match for the club.

Let’s go back to 2018. The euphoria could not have been greater. Guangzhou Evergrande has loaned and (later) signed Talisca, a player who was on the verge of joining one of the big European clubs. Besiktas Istanbul’s crowd-pleaser didn’t land at Manchester United, but in the distant Guangzhou, the big red giant in deep southern China.

The euphoria isn’t enough, the then-25-year-old, scores five goals in his first two league games and assists another. The trio of Paulinho, Goulart and Talisca shone from game to game. The team seemed unstoppable.

It’s all the more remarkable that Shanghai SIPG (now Shanghai Port) was nevertheless able to crown itself champions for the first time. In the Champions League, where Talisca wasn’t eligible to play, the end after tonnes of missed chances against Tianjin Quanjian, was sealed.

By season’s end, Talisca had 16 goals and eight assists in 18 league games; a fantastic rate for the newcomer, whose left foot and his wealth of tricks could not have been better.

In 2019, the Brazilian continued to set standards, albeit in a different role. Coach Fabio Cannavaro altered his system into a 4-3-3 and Talisca no longer acted as a classic playmaker with full freedom, but moved to the right wing with the chance to keep cutting inside and doing what he can best – scoring goals.

The biggest beneficiary of the system change was Paulinho, who exploded in a more offensive role and became Player of the Year. The numbers continued to speak for Talisca, 16 goals in 27 games across all competitions, plus three assists. Even his ‘outstanding’ rating fell to just ‘very good’. Despite winning the league title, it was still not enough to make the big leap in the Champions League. The dependence on the big names seemed too big.

The world has been standing still since 2020. Football is played almost exclusively in isolated locations, as summarized in the CSL in Dalian and Suzhou, in order to keep the game going despite the pandemic. Four months in a hotel, far away from the family, affects the minds of the extremely familiar Brazilians. Talisca continues to play the role of right winger in the 4-3-3.

As an outsider you can see and feel that he isn’t happy; he quarrels with the team, but also with his own appearances. As for many other people, this difficult time doesn’t leave its mark on footballers like Talisca, who seems emotionally troubled.

Little is left of the extroverted joker. So, it’s no wonder that Talisca can’t convince the outside world fully. As a classic playmaker on the right wing, plus the circumstances of the bubble – too much for the emotional Brazilian, Talisca’s numbers are falling. In 20 games he managed to score seven goals and two assists; not much for a player of his class, but understandable under these circumstances.

The 2021 season starts in different colours for Anderson Talisca. After months of waiting, due to tough Chinese entry regulations, he stayed in Brazil until the end. The austerity constraints of the Chinese clubs, but also the athletic goals of the player, have forced the club to act.

Keeping a man on hold with his exorbitant annual salary and then slowly bringing him back to the team in July, if he is allowed to enter, was simply too much. The fact that a naturalised player registered as a foreigner would have had to give way, would have to be considered.

Talisca is now playing for Al-Nasr Riyadh, with Guangzhou reportedly receiving a transfer fee. Nevertheless, it is a big negative business of the notoriously highly indebted club like all other Chinese clubs.

As a playmaker, Talisca was an exceptional player and figurehead of the league. His departure diminishes the team’s construction, which seems to have grown together more and more. Somehow, his departure also fits in with the ‘all-Chinese’ squad approach, which has already been discussed plenty.

Philipp is a german itc employee and football statistical data consultant for video game makers and TV-stations as well. The move of Jancker to Shenhua in 2006 was his first encounter with Chinese Football. Since then he has been passionate about the highly polarizing adventure of football in China.

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