Ever since Darío Conca became the third highest paid player in the world, following his transfer to Guangzhou Evergrande in 2011, the floodgates to the Chinese Super League have well and truly opened.
Once a strange and disrespected place to ply your trade, a transfer to the CSL is now on many players’ bucket lists. A litany of talented players have experienced its charms en route to retirement, including Chelsea legend Didier Drogba, Champions League winner Ricardo Cavalho and three-time Premier League champion Carlos Tevez.
However, due to the riches on offer, the CSL has also been able to attract a number of quality players still at the peak of their footballing powers. Oscar, Ramires and Yannick Carrasco have all been poached from top European clubs in recent years.
These coups demonstrate how the Chinese clubs could still have a vital part to play in the shaping the direction of this summer’s transfer window, but which of the Premier League’s current crop of players may be destined to leave behind the competitiveness and hard-work of England, in search of a life of leisure in the Far East.
This is where the CSL clubs comes in. Questions about Arsenal’s highest earner’s declining ability, will be less of an issue in a league in which the defenders make Shkodran Mustafi look like Alessandro Nesta. Also, if Graziano Pelle can be paid £300,000 a week at Shandong Luneng, surely someone in the league is willing to throw Özil a similarly ludicrous payday?
The groans that accompanied this missed opportunity have been the soundtrack to the Nigerian’s time in the east Midlands. Don’t you think it’s about time he left all this negativity behind for the bright lights of the CSL?
To say that Matteo Darmian has been a peripheral figure at Old Trafford over the past few seasons would be somewhat of an understatement. Amassing a measly 24 appearances in two years is no way to live for a man who was a mainstay in the Italian national team in the not so distant past.
Darmian has been linked with a move back to Serie A for an eternity, but with interest in the defender waning he should now set his sights further afield- to the CSL.
I mean, having a 33-year-old Ashley Young start over you at right-back all season is a strong indication that you should perhaps head towards the exit door, and why not get the biggest payday of your career while you’re at it?
One thing that the CSL is missing is a superstar goalkeeper on the lookout for one big last contract before retirement. This is a role that could be admirably filled by Man City’s error-prone back-up stopper: Claudio Bravo.
After picking up an achilles injury at the end of August, Bravo was out for the majority of the season. His Carabao Cup minutes being enjoyed instead by the impressive 20-year-old Arijanet Muric, whose penalties saves against Leicester in the quarter-finals were vital in the Citizens’ domestic treble.
This puts question marks over who will be the first choice back-up for Ederson for the upcoming season. But who wants to be a second-choice anyway?
Bravo’s talents would be much better served in China, where he could earn the best money of his career, whilst also putting in his highest errors that led to goal numbers, by forcing his limited defenders to play out from the back.
The last remnant of Liverpool’s banter era, Alberto Moreno may be departing Anfield (at last) this summer, but we should not be sad. It just means that the CSL will hopefully get the privilege to watch this footballing deity in action.
Though his may only be 26, Moreno will surely never win another Champions League. He should accept his career has peaked, leave the hard work of Europe behind and focus on another trophy- the illustrious Chinese FA Cup.
The CSL will probably suit his style. Defending will likely be minimal, which will allow the Spaniard to focus on bombing forward, which in fairness to him he was actually fairly good at.