Foot­ball’s dragon on the rise

The 2016 Chi­nese Su­per League is flex­ing its fi­nan­cial mus­cle, and many big names have packed for Pek­ing, writes Ti­mothy Molobi

CityPress - - Sport -

Move over Amer­ica and Europe, the Chi­nese Su­per League is fast es­tab­lish­ing it­self as the new­est desti­na­tion of choice for top in­ter­na­tional foot­ball play­ers.

China is al­ready an emerg­ing su­per­power, and the coun­try is now also re-emerg­ing as an Asian foot­ball su­per­power. Awash in money, it could soon ri­val Europe’s rich­est clubs in the pur­suit of the best tal­ent.

Ac­cord­ing to the Trans­fer­markt web­site, Chi­nese clubs have now spent more than €250 mil­lion (R4.4 bil­lion) on play­ers in the coun­try’s cur­rent trad­ing win­dow, which runs till later this month – Fe­bru­ary 26.

That’s more than teams have shelled out in any other league on the planet, in­clud­ing the English Premier League, which is re­garded as foot­ball’s rich­est.

With a pop­u­la­tion of about 1.4 bil­lion and the world’s se­cond-big­gest econ­omy, China has been lag­ging be­hind when it comes to foot­ball.

Europe has long been seen as the pre­ferred desti­na­tion for the world’s best play­ers, but they will think twice af­ter China broke two records in the player trans­fer mar­ket last week.

Guangzhou Ever­grande forked out €42 mil­lion to se­cure Colom­bian striker Jack­son Martinez from Atlético Madrid in the Span­ish La Liga.

This megadeal was bro­ken a few days later when Shakhtar Donetsk striker Alex Teix­eira joined Jiangsu Sun­ing for €50 mil­lion.

Ear­lier, dur­ing the Jan­uary player trans­fer win­dow, Brazil­ian in­ter­na­tional mid­fielder Ramires joined the same club in a €32 mil­lion deal.

Côte d’Ivoire and AS Roma striker Gerv­inho also com­pleted a move to He­bei China For­tune last month.

Other well-known Africans in the Su­per League are Demba Ba of Sene­gal

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