BEIJING • For the third time in 10 days, Chinese Super League (CSL) clubs have broken their league's transfer record.
Jiangsu Suning yesterday confirmed the signing of Brazilian Alex Teixeira for €50 million (S$78.3 million), a new national record that pushed CSL spending past the English Premier League.
The midfielder - previously a target for Liverpool - signed a four-year contract, moving from Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk.
The deal follows Guangzhou Evergrande's capture of Colombian striker Jackson Martinez from Atletico Madrid for €42 million and Jiangsu's signing of Brazil midfielder Ramires from Chelsea for a reported £25 million (S$51 million).
Teixeira is known for attacking midfield play and Jiangsu praised his ability to "play any front position", adding he "can also take charge of the wings". The flexibility, they said, means that he can "change positions" when facing different teams, giving the club "more options on attack".
Because China looks to have the financial power to move the whole league of Europe to China.
ARSENE WENGER, Arsenal manager, when asked if Premier League clubs should be worried about China's willingness to compete for top players.
He scored 89 goals in 223 matches for Shakhtar, winning five Ukrainian titles, three national Cups and five Ukrainian Super Cups.
The 26-year-old admitted that it has been a whirlwind couple of weeks, with Shakhtar rejecting a £24 million offer from the Reds last month.
He had fancied a move to Anfield but Liverpool did not want to meet Shakhtar's asking price. Jiangsu did.
"It happened so fast that I still need time to fully comprehend it all," he said from Spain, where he was bidding farewell to his former Shakhtar team-mates.
"My agent called when I was at the airport on my way to a club training camp. It was not an easy decision to make and I needed to respond quickly," added the uncapped Brazilian, who had also been linked with a move to Premier League champions Chelsea.
"People knew I wanted to stay in Europe and move to the Premier League. Unfortunately, all the offers from English clubs were quite vague, so now I am moving to China and hopes of playing for Brazil have moved a bit further away."
For China, it represents another coup as the country invests heavily in trying to build itself into a world-class football power.
The CSL signings are drawing international attention to China's professional league, said David Hornby, sports business director of the Mailman brand management group in Shanghai.
"Teixeira was one of the most sought-after players in the (January) transfer window," he said. "The fact that a Chinese club can fight off European competition for his signature is the clearest sign yet that the CSL is stating its claim as one of the top five leagues worldwide."
According to the transfermarkt website, which tracks commercial dealings in the sport, clubs in the CSL have so far spent €258.9 million in China's transfer window. Premier League clubs spent €247.3 million in the European window, which closed earlier this week.
With the transfer window in China open until Feb 26, the clubs could yet complete more high-profile signings before the new CSL season kicks off in March.
A trio of Atletico Madrid players have become the latest stars to be linked with a move to China.
Fernando Torres, Gabi and Tiago Mendes have all attracted offers from the CSL, reported Spanish daily Marca. According to Marca, Torres also has offers from the United States, United Arab Emirates and Japan, but China's is the best.
Torres' agent Jose Antonio Martin revealed last month that the former Liverpool and Chelsea striker "has an offer that would make him the best-paid in the world".
Those bragging rights currently belong to five-time world player of the year Lionel Messi, who reportedly earns £47.8 million a year.
As the Chinese clubs continue to flex their muscles, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes that European clubs should be worried.
Asked at a news conference ahead of tomorrow's trip to Bournemouth if Premier League clubs should be concerned by China's willingness to compete for top players, he was emphatic.
"Yes, of course," the Frenchman said. "Because China looks to have the financial power to move the whole league of Europe to China.
"And we... know that is just a consequence of economical power and they have that."
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS