“Wayne allowed his eye to travel further down the street. Suddenly he froze. There was something coming up the street on the opposite side. It wasn’t human. It couldn’t be. It was four times as rich as the richest club. Wayne opened his mouth to scream, but no sound came out.”
At least that amended exert from the brilliant BFG is how I think a lot of people have viewed the Chinese Super League in the past. A big, rich outsider who is plotting to pluck our superstars in the night while we sleep. Even during the recent non-event that was the winter transfer window, every day there was talk about top players moving to China. Is there any substance to this, or are players being linked with ‘unnamed Chinese clubs’ just driving clicks to rumour websites or lining agent’s pockets? With the close of the league transfer window at the end of February, we can expect more proposed moves or come and get me calls from aging stars.
It has been well documented that recent foreign player limitations have been introduced to the league. Each club is now only allowed to register 4 non Chinese players and field three at the same time. If we look at those teams in the league, there really isn’t that much space for many other of Europe’s top, or being slightly more factual, medium level stars to join up with the likes of Oscar, Pelle and John Obi Mikel.
Ten of the sixteen teams already have their full complement of foreign players, leaving them with only the option to move someone on before bringing in new talent. This may however prove difficult. With some of the wages which are already being paid to these players, it is unlikely that they will want to take a pay reduction in order to move to another league outside of China. Not even David Moyes would be interested in some of the old men possibly interested in coming back to the Premier League. Mind you, I don’t think any ex-Everton are out there yet. In truth, there are only around seven available slots in the league at the moment. With players such as Rooney, Ashley Young, Cheick Tiote and Brighton’s Beram Kayal linked, they may have to move fast to be registered. That is of course if there is any substance to the headlines. Yeah, Rooney to Kayal. That’s the level we are talking.
New moves will also require the clubs to be independent from their parent company financially. From this season, any team which is running at a financial deficit will for more than three years running could face expulsion from the CSL. Couple that with the rule stating that two U23 Chinese players must be within the match squad and you have a league that is looking toward the future. Specific measures are being put into place to stop the Chinese league from doing what it is stereotyped as.
Headline writers and click bait sites may soon need a new target as the CSL ‘Boogie Man’ may not be lurking for much longer.