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.
#3 Alex Teixeira
When news of Alex Teixeira's transfer to Chinese Super League club Jiangsu Suning spread, it came as a shocker for many. The Brazilian was being pursued by Liverpool in 2015, and it was a great opportunity to shine on the big stage in the Premier League. At 26, with Teixeira yet to enjoy his prime, he chose the Chinese Super League over all others.
The Brazilian's transfer happened on the back of a very successful season with Shakhtar Donetsk. He lit up the Ukrainian Premier League with 22 goals and in the same campaign scored four in the Champions League.
Teixeira was well aware that his move would also make it difficult for him to be selected for his country. He didn't make a senior appearance for the Brazil side until that move to the Chinese Super League and that did not change afterwards. The former Shakhtar player went on to win the league for the first time in 2020 before leaving for Besiktas.
The Brazilian's abilities were never a doubt as an attacking midfielder and he continued his exploits in China. During his four years with Chinese Super League club Jiangsu Suning, he made a total of 153 appearances and made a massive 116 goal contributions. It is such a shame that Premier League clubs could never place a significant bid to lure him to England.
By now you would know that the Chinese Super League loves Brazilians and the same love has been reciprocated on so many levels. Hulk is no exception.
In 2016, after the striker had established his dominance in Russia with Zenit Petersburg, he moved to the Chinese Super League in what was the most expensive signing. The Brazilian wore his 'Hitman' status on his sleeve and was a consistent goal threat during all four years with Shanghai Port.
In the 2018 season, he helped his side dethrone Guangzhou Evergrande, the seven-time champions of the Chinese Super League. His 28 goal contributions that season in the Chinese top-flight in 25 appearances consisted of 13 goals and 15 assists. The £50.22 million man left the club in 2020 on a sour note as his relationship with coach Vitor Pereira suffered irrepairable damage.
It takes one Brazilian to beat another Brazilian and all that excess cash available with Shanghai Port. Hulk lasted as the Chinese Super League's most expensive player for only about six months as, Oscar, overtook him with a price tag of £54 million.
The midfielder switched from Premier League giants Chelsea to Shanghai Port and shared the dressing room with Brazil compatriot Hulk. Unlike Hulk, Oscar is still continuing in the Chinese Super League. In their title-winning campaign of 2018, Oscar provided 22 assists in the Chinese Super League in 29 games.
The Brazilian has never been shy to accept the fact that money had a huge role in his transfer to China. After the attacking midfielder lost his regular starting spot under Antonio Conte in 2016, the offer from the Chinese Super League was too good to be refused.
He prioritized his family's future over his own career, and he hasn't been doing too bad by any means in either of those departments. Oscar has goal contributions in double figures every season in the Chinese Super League. He has already managed three goals and nine assists in just 12 games this season.