Chinese Super League outspends English Premier League
On the back of the close of the winter transfer window in China, we look at the big five signings that have helped the CLS outspend the EPL for the first time.
The cash-rich Chinese Super League splashed 331 million euros ($359 million) on players in its winter transfer window, outspending the English Premier League for the first time. Here are the five most notable signings:
Alex Teixeira (50 million euros, Shakhtar Donetsk to Jiangsu Suning). Striker Teixeira, 26, scored 89 goals in 223 matches for the Ukrainian side and was a target for Liverpool until Jiangsu broke the Chinese transfer record. Teixeira began to repay some of the massive fee with his first goal in the 3-2 AFC Champions League win over Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors on Tuesday.
Jackson Martinez (42 million euros, Atletico Madrid to Guangzhou Evergrande). When Colombian striker Martinez joined Brazilian Paulinho at Luiz Felipe Scolari's Asian champions for a then Asian record fee (broken by Teixeira two days later) he was described as a "fox in the box" by Guangzhou's website. But he struggled to make an impact in Madrid after moving from Porto, where he poached 92 goals in 133 games, and is yet to get off the mark for his new club.
Ramires (28 million euros, Chelsea to Jiangsu Suning). The Brazilian midfielder had fallen out of favour at the English Premier League champions who probably couldn't believe their luck when Jiangsu offered to take him off their hands in January for a fee that was, at the time, a Chinese record. The 28-year-old has endured a mixed start to life in China, scoring on debut in a pre-season friendly last month but being red-carded in Tuesday's Champions League win over Jeonbuk.
Ezequiel Lavezzi (Paris Saint-Germain to Hebei China Fortune, 5.5 million euros). Hebei described the Argentina international forward, who played alongside Lionel Messi in the 2014 World Cup final, as "the next Maradona" and while the fee was not huge by current Chinese standards, his reported salary of 31 million euros ($33.6 million) over the two years of his contract is jaw-dropping.
Gervinho (AS Roma to Hebei China Fortune, 18 million euros). The two-time Ivory Coast footballer of the year had struggled in the Italian capital, scoring just 17 times in 71 Serie A appearances and reportedly had handed in a transfer request when Hebei opened their chequebook. He previously had a disappointing two years at Arsenal where the striker hit the net only nine times in the English Premier League.
Will we see a similar pattern come the summer transfer window? Are we on the verge of a very different global distribution of top players? How will the new EPL TV deal affect clubs' spending? How will the MLS in the United States impact on this? We'll be keeping a very close eye on all the factors...