Football: Guangzhou Evergrande play down speculation over mammoth €70m offer for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Borussia Dortmund forward Pierre-Emerick Aubemayang celebrating scoring against Tottenham Hotspur during their Champions League match on Nov 21, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

HONG KONG (REUTERS) - Seven-time Chinese Super League champions Guangzhou Evergrande have denied they are ready to make a huge bid for Borussia Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and maintain that they are focusing on young, homegrown talent.

Chinese media had reported that Guangzhou and Beijing Guoan were both looking to sign the Gabon international for some €70 million (S$111.5 million), prompting China's Football Association to issue a statement reminding domestic clubs of the levies to be imposed on those spending heavily on foreign talent.

Regulations were put in place last year imposing a 100 per cent tax on transfer fees over US$70 million (S$93.3 million) for foreign players in a bid to curb spending.

Evergrande said in a statement late on Wednesday (Jan 10) that they had no plans to spend significant sums on players from overseas.

"Since 2017, we have set out clear principals to sign foreign players who compliment Chinese football and we refuse to pay a premium for any player," the club said.

"Neither will we join in bidding wars in the transfer market as we are now switching our focus to youth development.

"We will stick to the Evergrande model of building a fully linked youth system to realise our vision of fielding a fully Chinese squad by 2020 to ensure we can consistently contribute to a healthy, stable and sustainable environment for Chinese football."

Fabio Cannavaro was appointed Guangzhou's head coach in November and the Italian has been charged with leading the transition to an entirely Chinese squad by chairman Xu Jianyin.

Their main business in the current transfer window has seen them sign highly-rated domestic trio Deng Hanwen, Tang Shi and Yang Liyu, all of whom are aged under 23.

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