Much has been written recently about the issues that have engulfed the Chinese Super League in recent months. And it’s certainly fair to say that the new financial uncertainty has led Chinese clubs to be much more conservative in the transfer market this offseason.
The league’s new foreign signings reflect this, with players now mostly drawn from teams in South America and East Asia, as opposed to the big leagues in Europe.
That being said, there have been a lot of exciting new players joining the CSL this year and a number of interesting moves within the league itself. So now let’s take a look at the top ten Chinese Super League transfers that have taken place so far in 2021.
# 10 Guilherme
GD Alvarenga in Guangzhou City
The city of Guangzhou has appealed to Brazilian playmaker Guilherme as he seeks to revamp his attack after the departure of Israeli attackers Dia Saba and Eran Zahavi.
Best known for his five-year stint with Lega Warsaw, Guilherme’s, recently plied his trade with Goztepe in the Turkish Super Lig. A creative attacking midfielder with a high level of technical ability, he hopes to make a splash in Guangzhou City.
# 9 Ante Majstorovic
NK Osijek at the port of Shanghai
Majstorovic’s move to the port of Shanghai will see him play outside his home county of Croatia for the first time. And it may take a while for him to adjust to Chinese football at the start of the league. Without it, he would likely rank much higher on the list.
An extremely experienced center-back who, at 27, has already managed to make 250 professional appearances. Majstorovic is both strong and good in the air and will likely take the place of the recently departed Shi Ke in the heart of the Shanghai port defense.
# 8 Erik Lima
Palm trees in Changchun Yatai
Erik is one of the many foreign strikers newly promoted Changchun brought in this winter. The signings suggest that club management don’t expect last season’s China League One top scorer Tan Long to be able to replicate the same level of production in CSL this year.
Erik joined Changchun from Palmeiras, but over the past two seasons he has been on loan at Yokohama F. Marinos, where he has proven to be a reliable scorer in the J1 League.
Foreign players who move from the J1 League to the Chinese Super League usually make a smooth transition and we should expect to see the Brazilian find the net steadily in the coming season.
# 7 Christian Bassogog
Henan Songshan Longmen in Shanghai Shenhua
A versatile offensive player who can either play wide or in a more central role, Bassogog has plenty of CSL experience having spent four years with Henan before joining Shenhua.
This experience should make him something of a plug-in and game signature that won’t need time to acclimatize to the league.
Shenhua struggled to score goals at times last year and they are hopeful that the Cameroon striker’s pace and attacking flair will provide a vital new dimension to Shenhua’s attack.
# 6 Matej Jonjic
Cerezo Osaka in Shanghai Shenhua
Shenhua was pretty solid at the back last year, but Jonjic will always be a great addition to the squad. The 30-year-old Croatian center-back takes sixth place on the list mainly due to his extensive playing experience in East Asia. Having made over 200 appearances in the Japanese and Korean upper tiers in the past six years.
Shenhua no doubt hopes that he can pass some of this experience on to young Zhu Chenjie. Zhu is currently one of the best young talents in Chinese football, and having the opportunity to team up with a center-back with someone like Jonjic should really help his development.
# 5 Dilmurat Mawlanniyaz
Chongqing Liangjiang Athletic in Shenzhen
Henan has been a defensive mess for much of last season and has taken a number of steps to address the issue this offseason. One of those moves is the signing of right-back Dilmurat Mawlanniyaz from Chongqing.
One of the best Chinese full-backs to play today, Mawlanniyaz is known for his excellent sense of position, high work pace and solid tackle. Although Henan has spent quite a bit to bring it to the province, it should be a good investment. He is expected to enter the starting lineup immediately and should be a mainstay of the squad for years to come.
# 4 Shi Ke
Shanghai Port to Shandong Taishan
Last year, Shandong struggled to find a stable center-back pair and suffered defensively as a result.
New manager Hao Wei will be confident that new recruit Shi Ke will be able to help solve this problem. The China international is a CSL veteran with nearly two hundred high-profile appearances to his name and has been a mainstay of the Port of Shanghai’s 2018 campaign.
At twenty-eight, he still has plenty of miles left and the athletic center-back is expected to enter Taishan’s starting XI straight away.
# 3 Juan Fernando Quintero
River Plate in Shenzhen
An extremely technically gifted attacking midfielder, the Colombian has spent most of his career in South America and played for Argentine giant River Plate before moving to Shenzhen.
Outside of his home continent, he is best known for his free kick against Japan in the 2018 World Cup, who finished second on goal of the tournament. However, since the World Cup Quintero has struggled somewhat for form and his career was severely disrupted by a cruciate ligament rupture in 2019.
Quintero has since recovered from his injury and if he is able to rediscover his form from a few years ago, he could become one of the most notable players in the Chinese Super League.
# 2 Son Jun-ho
Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors in Shandong Taishan
A fierce and relentless midfielder capable of throwing himself in and creating opportunities, Son was instrumental in Jeonbuk’s recent dominance of the K League.
Although Son was never successful in securing a move to Europe, his contributions to Jeonbuk’s success over the past few years have not gone unnoticed in Korea. With him, he recently became a regular at the South Korean national team and was awarded the 2020 K League 1 MVP.
Although not as big as the likes of Quintero. Son takes second place as he is certain to be a key player for Shandong next season and will add steel to their midfield.
# 1 Junior Negrao
Ulsan Hyundai in Changchun Yatai
The first place may seem like a pretty high ranking for a 34-year-old striker who has never played in Europe and has not proven himself in China. But Changchun’s signing of Negrao secures the top spot due to the Brazilian’s prolific scoring record in Korea in recent years.
Last year, Negrao finished the season as the K 1 League top scorer with 26 goals in 27 games and as the AFC Champions League top scorer with seven goals in nine games, including one. doubled in Ulsan’s 2-1 victory in the final.
If Negrao can pick up where he left off last year, he could turn out to be one of the signings of the season.