Shanghai (AFP) - Andre Villas-Boas believes the heady days of big spending in the Chinese league are over, calling swingeing new regulations that stymied the transfer market "a big surprise".
The Shanghai SIPG coach has the Brazilian stars Oscar and Hulk at the club after Chinese Super League (CSL) teams splashed the cash in the winter and in transfer windows before that.
But the Chinese Football Association (CFA) moved to limit the largesse and in the most recent summer transfer window clubs mostly signed freebies, loanees and has-beens.
The most high-profile arrival was French striker Anthony Modeste to Tianjin Quanjian - who Villas-Boas and his Shanghai side face on Sunday in the CSL.
Modeste joined Tianjin on loan from Cologne in Germany with a view to a €29 million (S$46.45 million) permanent move, but Villas-Boas said Saturday: "The change of regulations implicates that the market will probably stop in China regarding this kind of (expensive) transfer.
"We will see how it moves forward next year. For now the market is closed, (players can) only exit and when it opens (in the winter) we will see.
"But I don't think the spending will continue as it was before."
Attacking midfielder Oscar joined SIPG in January from Chelsea for an Asian-record €60 million. But with him, Hulk and another Brazilian Elkeson firing the side to second in the CSL this season, Villas-Boas said the club had not planned "to do a lot" in the past transfer window, irrespective of the new rules.
In June, just as the window opened, the CFA said Chinese clubs paying more than 45 million yuan (S$9.1 million) for a foreign player would need to pay a 100 per cent surcharge to a fund to develop the local game.
The move was designed to discourage heavy spending on overseas players and instead see cash go on promoting Chinese players.
Villas-Boas, a former Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur manager, said the mid-season changes came as a nasty surprise.
"What we were expecting before, in the beginning of the season (in March) was for the rules not to change," he said. "This was the big surprise of this season."