Football: Chelsea's Ramires joins Jiangsu in record deal, as China aims for football supremacy

Ramires celebrates after scoring for Chelsea on Oct 31, 2015.
Ramires celebrates after scoring for Chelsea on Oct 31, 2015.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (AFP) - Brazilian midfielder Ramires on Wednesday moved from Chelsea to Jiangsu Suning for a reported US $35 million making him the biggest ever signing by a Chinese club.

Chelsea said that a "permanent transfer" for the 28-year-old had been agreed, without giving details of the fee. British media said Jiangsu had paid at least £25 million (S$50.85 million).

The Ramires deal is a new sign of the financial power of Chinese football clubs in the international transfer market.

According to a FIFA report released last week, China was the sixth biggest transfer spender in 2015 and the biggest outside the major European leagues in England, Spain, Italy, Germany and France.

The US $168 million (S$239.77 million) spent by Chinese Super League clubs in 2015 was 68 per cent higher than for 2014 and observers said the Ramires transfer is a sign that the record will be smashed again this year.

Ivory Coast striker Gervinho moved from Roma to Hebei Fortune in another major move from Europe to the east.

In a report Wednesday, the BBC Sports America spoke with several experts who said that with such enornmous cash offers they expect many more world-class players to make the move to China.

"They have massive massive plans and intentions," football agent Saif Rubie told the BBC.

Simon Chadwick, a professor at the University of Salford, stold BBC Sports: "Quite simply, the Chinese government is trying to create the world's biggest sport economy. They've got a goal of increasing the size of their domestic sport economy to US$850 billion by 2025."

Ramires joined Chelsea from Benfica in 2010 and won the Champions League and the Premier League in 251 appearances for the London club during which he scored 34 goals.

He was a favourite under Jose Mourinho but has struggled to get a game in recent months.

Ramires famously scored the goal - a chipped shot over Victor Valdes - that got Chelsea back into the game in their Champions League semi-final against Barcelona in 2012.

Chelsea went through to the final on away goals but the Brazilian also got a yellow card and was suspended for the win over Bayern Munich in the final.

The Chinese club, based in Nanjing, already have a host of foreign players and their current coach is another former Chelsea player, Dan Petrescu.

Jiangsu won the Chinese FA Cup last year under Petrescu and in December were bought for a reported US$80 million by Suning Commerce Group one of China's biggest privately owned retailers.