The Chinese Super League has always stayed in the headlines for its financial prowess. Over the last decade it has tried to tilt the balance of global soccer away from Europe and their money game gets huge credit for it. Many players have decided to abandon the grandest of stages in Europe in exchange for the cash-rich Chinese Super League.
Chinese Super League has improved with such big-money signings
With the arrival of many exciting players from Europe, the quality of football in China has definitely improved and it will impact the game at the grassroots levels. Inevitably, this has resulted in more coverage of the Chinese Super League on various platforms and more profitable financial deals. We turn our attention to those who contributed to this tilt of balance and were brought to China for hefty sums.
Here are the five most expensive signings in the history of the Chinese Super League:
#5 Jackson Martinez
Atletico Madrid are not quite known for going all out for a player, paying his release clause and luring him away. Their approach to transfer situations is mostly shrewd and well calculated. So when the Madrid club paid a full £31.5 million to Porto as part of the release clause for Jackson Martinez, it became quite a statement from them.
But he was not destined to make it big with Los Rojiblancos. Martinez did not find himself comfortable playing in Diego Simeone's system and nor was he able to gel with the boss. In about seven months, he moved to the Chinese Super League for a then record fee of £37.8 million.
He signed with Guangzhou Evergrande where in 16 appearances he managed four goals and and assist in all competitions. Notably, all those goals came in Chinese Super League matches.
Martinez made his name as a prolific striker while playing for FC Porto. In his 132 appearances, he scored 92 times for them. After the 2016 season in China, the Colombian spent the rest of his time on multiple loan spells with Portimonense until 2020, post which he retired.
Usually players who leave for the Chinese Super League find it a big achievement to make it back to the European top-flight leagues. Paulinho has done exactly the same in the past few years.
His allegiance with Chinese Super League club Guangzhou Evergrande has been strong since he first moved there and they have kept their faith in the player as well. In 2015, the Brazilian joined GZ Evergrande from Tottenham Hotspur in a move worth £12.6m. In two years he almost tripled his stocks and was signed by Barcelona for a fee of £36 million.
In his single season with the Catalans, Paulinho managed to win the domestic double and became a key part of the Barcelona side. He provided nine goals from the middle of the park and three assists.
His former Chinese Super League club returned for him in 2018 and signed him on an initial loan deal. Paulinho eventually signed permanently for a fee of £37.8 million, making him the fourth most expensive signing in the Chinese top flight.