SHANGHAI, BALIPOST.com – Gareth Bale’s £1-million-a-week move from Real Madrid collapsed but Chinese football has re-emerged as a force in the global transfer market despite measures to rein in spending.
Marko Arnautovic, Salomon Rondon and Stephan El Shaarawy all landed in the Chinese Super League (CSL) during China’s summer transfer window, which closed on Wednesday.
There was a flurry of domestic transfers too, while Champions League-winning coach Rafael Benitez also arrived, taking over at Dalian Yifang.
Nearly 100 million euros was spent in transfer fees by CSL clubs, compared to the record 128 million euros splurged in the summer of 2016, said the respected Oriental Sports Daily.
The Austrian forward Arnautovic was the biggest mover, swapping West Ham United for CSL champions Shanghai SIPG for 25 million euros.
But it was Bale’s proposed transfer to Jiangsu Suning which really made headlines and renewed fears about Chinese clubs distorting the transfer market with wages the rest cannot match.
The 30-year-old forward was all set to sign a handsomely paid three-year contract with Jiangsu, but Real pulled the plug at the last moment because of wrangling over the fee, a source told AFP.
Two years ago, after a series of record deals, the Chinese Football Association — at the behest of the government — slapped a 100 percent tax on the transfers of incoming foreign players.
The prohibitive move worked: in the summer of 2017 the highest-profile arrival was Anthony Modeste on loan from Cologne.
The CFA brought in more cooling measures at the start of this year, including a cap on the wages of Chinese players and a limit on bonuses.
Clubs were also told that their annual expenditure could not exceed 1.2 billion yuan ($174 million, 158 million euros) in 2019, which will decline to 900 million in 2021.
But in light of the latest transfer dealings, those measures were now “a pile of waste paper”, said a commentary in the Oriental Sports Daily. (AFP)