CHINA TOPIX

Updated 8:47 AM EST, Fri, Mar 05, 2021

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Chinese Super League News: China wants to become top destination for European footballers; Hong Kong football 'falling behind'?

Brazilian Hulk signs with Shanghai SIPG this summer

(Photo : Getty Images) Brazilian Hulk signs with Shanghai SIPG this summer in a £48 million Chinese transfer record-breaking deal.

China is reportedly keen to gradually become a top destination for European footballers as Chinese football clubs continue to invest massively on foreign players this year. Meanwhile, Hong Kong football officials feel that they are "falling behind" with the rapid growth of football in the country.

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CNBC reported that China's intense commitment to become a world football superpower by 2050, spearheaded by no less than Chinese president Xi Jinping, had produced investments of "£200 million in playing talent by Chinese Super League Clubs in the 2016 winter transfer window" alone, which was said to be "more than any other country" during the said period.

The figure did not count the Chinese transfer record-breaking £48 million acquisition of Brazilian winger Hulk by Chinese Super League club Shanghai SIPG FC from Russian team Zenit Saint Petersburg last June. Another CSL side, Shandong Luneng FC, also snatched Italian striker Graziano Pelle from English Premier League club Southampton FC for £12 million.

Other notable players who have transferred this summer from European clubs to the Far East nation are Papiss Cissé from Newcastle United to Shandong Luneng, Hong Jeong-ho from FC Augsburg to Jiangsu Suning, Anthony Ujah from Werder Bremen to Liaoning Whowin, and Stoppila Sunzu from Lille to Shanghai Greenland Shenhua.

With the ongoing trend, it is slowly becoming evident that every transfer window the rate of European club players moving to China seems to be getting higher and higher.

"Recently, China has been attracting a different caliber of players who are significantly younger than before. Chinese clubs have also been signing players with many international caps, like (Brazilian soccer star) Ramires," said Futures Sport + Entertainment managing director Kevin Alavy. "Top players signed are often attackers. They tend to be higher profile, as the positions are more glamorous. A top striker can make a difference quickly."

Meanwhile, Hong Kong' South China team manager Ricardo Rambo expressed concern that Hong Kong is "falling behind" the rapid growth of football experienced in the mainland.

"Yes, definitely. We have to be honest I think with the pitches, the environment and condition for every Hong Kong club and the sponsorship and currently, China are doing really well in these respects and we have to catch a little bit of this to make Hong Kong (football) better," Rambo said, as per Fox Sports Asia.

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