There is still some stigma attached to a move to the Chinese Super League by a top football player who has had a successful stint in Europe. He is often labelled as a mercenary who gave up on career progression to choose the easiest path to money, especially if you are as young as Brazilian midfielder Oscar who moved to Shanghai SIPG at 25.
Often, the move does signify giving up on the European dream and choosing stability. The biggest example of this is Alexandre Pato, an AC Milan wunderkind, who lost his way and then found his goal-scoring touch in the Chinese Super League.
Pato's career has not been completely resurrected however, and he is currently a free agent after his last stint at Sao Paulo where he struggled once again. His success in China again raises questions about the standard of the Chinese Super League. But there are notable examples of players who have resurrected their careers or at least extended them fruitfully by playing in China.
We take a look at five of them here in no particular order.
5 players who saved their careers by moving to the Chinese Super League
#5 Renato Augusto
Renato Augusto is one of two Brazilians on this list who has resurrected his international career by moving to the Chinese Super League.
The midfielder had an underwhelming spell at Bayer Leverkusen before moving back to his home country with Corinthians where he stayed for four years till he made the decision to move to China with Beijing Guoan for whom he has played 139 times and netted 38 goals while assisting 41 times.
Augusto's performances for the Beijing club led to him getting more frequent call-ups to the national team with whom he has won an Olympic gold and also travelled to the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The player has also publicly hailed the quality of the Chinese Super League.
#4 Marouane Fellaini
Marouane Fellaini may have had his detractors at Manchester United, especially because his spell coincided with the club's fall from lofty heights, but he did win four trophies which included the Europa League and the FA Cup with the Red Devils.
The tall and physical midfielder also got crucial goals, especially with his head, for the club even if he was not always the most aesthetic footballer on the pitch.
Fellaini's popularity at Everton, however, surpassed that at United and past 30, the player made what seemed like a masterstroke move to the Chinese Super League where he joined Shandong Luneng for whom he scored on debut and has scored 11 more times.
#3 Odion Ighalo
Odion Ighalo was a revelation when he joined Manchester United on loan from Chinese club Shanghai Greenland Shenhua and scored in his first three appearances. So impressive he has been for the Red Devils as a support striker that his loan spell has been extended by the English club.
The Nigerian striker's last spell in England, however, ended disastrously after a great first season at Watford. However, he resurrected his career in the Chinese Super League before moving to Shanghai where his good form continued.
#2 Papiss Demba Cisse
Papiss Demba Cisse made a dream start for Newcastle United when he almost went a goal a game in his first 14 games, including scoring one of the best ever goals in the Premier League against Chelsea. However, the Senegalese became more inconsistent as time went on. He did spend four more seasons at the club, but his goals dried up.
After Newcastle got relegated in 2016, Cisse moved to China to join Shandong Luneng where he partnered another striker from Europe, Graziano Pelle. Cisse again found his touch in China, scoring plenty of goals and winning a return to Europe with Turkish club Alanyaspor.
Paulinho was a big-name flop at Tottenham Hotspur after the English club had signed the midfielder with a lot of expectations following his success with the Brazil team and previous club Corinthians.
His failure in England led to him moving to Guangzhou Evergrande where the player found a new lease of life and form. His creative impetus returned in China, and he made a remarkable turnaround to his career by sealing a move to Barcelona.
Paulinho was a key player for Barcelona, scoring nine times and helping the club win a domestic double before Guangzhou reclaimed their asset. The 32-year-old has also regained his place in the Brazil team and looks very settled in China.