The English Premier League season has a few weeks left to play out, but it looks like Chelsea’s star striker Diego Costa is China bound.
Word leaked out that Chinese Super League team Tianjin Quanjian are offering the Spaniard £650,000 after taxes. While most top European teams wouldn’t think of parting with their main goal scorer, Tianjin Quanjian are said to be offering £75 million for Costa to play in the Far East.
The CSL’s clubs have been on a spending rampage in recent years as the Chinese government has backed improvements in sports; especially football. While the improvement in domestic players is debatable, teams have splurged on foreign talent.
In the winter of 2017 alone, the CSL’s 16 teams went crazy. A whopping £325m was spent on players with Carlos Tevez being the marquee signing.
The CSL’s spending power hasn’t gone unnoticed as players from Europe and South America have been tempted by big money moves. Some European football pundits believe that Chinese football will really soar if Costa is China bound. The move is expected to incite more big name players from Europe to join the CSL.
Four plus one
CSL clubs are able to sign five non-Chinese players. However, only three can feature in a match. Of the five, four can be from non-Asian nations, while the fifth must come from the Asian Confederation. Tianjin Quanjian already have five players in place, but if Costa is China bound, one of the four non-Asian players will be cast off.
The club’s current marquee player, Axel Witsel, arrived from Zenit Saint Petersburg in the winter along with Alexandre Pato. The two are joined by Brazilian’s Geuvanio and Junior Moraes. South Korean Kwon Kyung-won rounds out the foreign players for Tianjin Quanjian.
Chelsea and Chinese transfer money
Chelsea have made out well recently in transferring players to Chinese clubs. Brazilian Oscar was sold to Shanghai SIPG for £60m. John Obi Mikel joined the Brazilian in China, but signed with Tianjin TEDA. He is said to be earning £140,000 a week.
If Costa is China bound, and the deal is made for £75m, the Blues will have made at least £135m off CSL clubs; which is an unbelievable figure as Chelsea will have completed all of these moves in 2017.
Is it sustainable?
The biggest question about the CSL’s spending is whether it is sustainable. On the surface, it would seem that spending over the odds for players isn’t the best strategy; especially when the football federation is trying to grow the game at the grassroots level.
It has raised interest in the league’s teams, however. According to TM, Guangzhou R&F gets just over 8,000 fans a game. That is the lowest figure as local rivals Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao gets more than 45,000 a home match, giving indication that fans are responding to the product on the pitch.
The Chinese government has earmarked around £600 billion to be spent on sports between 2015 and 2025. The investments are being made by both the government and private businesses. But it isn’t just domestic football where investment is being made.
Chinese owners and investment groups have bought into big clubs in Europe as well. Teams such as Inter Milan, AC Milan, Manchester City and more now have full or partial Chinese investment or ownership.
Whether Costa is China bound or not won’t stop the CSL’s spending. It may not even influence other top stars from the Premier League to leave. However, it will add another foreign star to the growing list of non-Chinese players in the CSL.