Ever since the financial explosion in the league in the mid-2010s, the Chinese Super League has become a prime destination for a handful of the world’s best football players.
Sure, some of the stars who have moved to China weren’t in their primes when they did so, but the huge wages on offer have still been able to tempt some major names who could easily have continued to ply their trade in a top European league, and it’s to be expected that the same pattern could follow in the 2020s.
Here are 5 of the most famous players to have played in the Chinese Super League.
#1 Carlos Tevez
Argentine striker Carlos Tevez is perhaps one of the most underrated players of his generation. After bursting onto the scene in his native country and then in Brazil in the early 2000s, he moved to England and went onto huge success with Manchester United and their rivals Manchester City, winning Premier League titles with both clubs as well as the Champions League with the Red Devils in 2007-08.
Tevez moved to Juventus in the summer of 2013 and immediately caught fire there too, scoring 21 goals and being named Player of the Season as the Old Lady won the Scudetto. After a second Scudetto followed in 2014-15, the Argentine surprised everyone by moving back to his boyhood club Boca Juniors – but after two years there, eyes were really opened when he moved to Chinese side Shanghai Shenhua.
The move reportedly made the striker the highest-paid player in the world, with an annual salary of around $41m – but his time in the Far East was hardly a success. Tevez played just 20 times for Shanghai and scored only 4 goals despite the relatively lower standard of football in the league. He was criticised for letting himself get out of shape, and after just over a year at the club, he moved back to Boca Juniors.
A later interview with Tevez saw him quoted as stating that he’d been “on holiday” during his time in Shanghai, while Boca legend Diego Maradona described him as “filling Santa’s sack with dollars” with the move.