SHANGHAI, China, Feb 28 – Spending may have slowed in the Chinese Super League, which kicks off a new season on Friday, but clubs are still splashing out on salaries to lure big-name players.
AFP Sport picks the five most significant imports during the close season:
– Marouane Fellaini (Shandong Luneng) –
The most eye-catching move of the Chinese transfer window, the towering 31-year-old ended five-and-a-half turbulent years at Manchester United by joining Shandong Luneng.
The Belgian international, who can play in midfield or as an auxiliary forward, made 177 appearances and scored 22 goals at United.
But he was never accepted by fans at Old Trafford, who felt his awkward style was not in keeping with United’s attacking traditions.
– Mousa Dembele (Guangzhou R&F) –
Like Fellaini, Dembele is a 31-year-old Belgian international and another high-profile acquisition from the Premier League.
Dembele was immensely popular at Tottenham Hotspur and in his pomp was one of the finest midfielders in English football, but injuries have taken their toll.
R&F, very much the second team in Guangzhou — behind seven-time CSL champions Guangzhou Evergrande — paid about 12 million euros to lure Dembele from London.
They will be desperately hoping that they can keep him fit.
– Marek Hamsik (Dalian Yifang)
Dalian reportedly paid 20 million euros to sign Hamsik, 31, from Napoli.
The Slovak international is Napoli’s record goal-scorer, hitting 121 goals in 520 appearances to overhaul the tally plundered by Diego Maradona.
Hamsik was also captain at the Italian side and cultivated legendary status during his 12 years at the club.
With his tattoos, mohawk hairstyle and undoubted talent, Hamsik could set the CSL alight.
– Sandro Wagner (Tianjin Teda) –
Yet another 31-year-old, the German forward was brought to struggling Tianjin Teda from Bayern Munich for a fee reported to be five million euros and a hefty salary hike.
The striker had become frustrated by his lack of playing time under Bayern coach Niko Kovac.
Not one to hide his opinions, Wagner retired from international duty with Germany in May last year — an angry reaction to being left out of the 2018 World Cup squad by Joachim Loew.
– Kim Min-jae (Beijing Guoan) –
South Korean international Kim “Monster” Min-jae snubbed interest from Premier League side Watford to sign for Beijing Guoan from Jeonbuk Motors.
The burly 22-year-old centre-back missed last summer’s World Cup because of injury but is a stalwart for South Korea and regularly touted as one of the best defenders in Asia.
The “Monster” nickname stems from his powerful physique and he will play a big part in Guoan’s title push.