Chinese Super League (CSL) has come strong into the market competing for top talents. What makes this spectacular is the vision of the country to compete in the 2030 FIFA World Cup. The most surprising thing about the whole financial power of the Chinese Super League is the purchasing of top South American talents. South America has provided the games exceptional players and it is not surprising that the two all-time greats come from the continent.

Why is this happening, is this the players request or their agents, we take a look at some of the talents that chose the East when they were in the prime of their careers.

Hulk plays for Shanghai SIPG

Hulk was an integral part of a young FC Porto side that became one of the greatest sides in Europe using a couple of South Americans with Radamel Falcao as the focal point of attack. Hulk’s transfer to Zenit St. Petersburg came as a shock not only to football fans but to himself as well after his agent took him to the cold to play in Russia. After successful seasons under current AS Roma manager Luciano Spalletti, Hulk was among the top transfer targets in the summer of 2016 but he went on to break the Asian record for €55.8 million by signing for Shanghai SIPG in the Chinese Super League. Hulk was a talent that could have succeeded in England, France, Spain or Italy but it never materialized.

Oscar left Premier league for China

After Antonio Conte settled on the (3-4-3) formation at Chelsea FC, it paved little way for Oscar. With no intent of the Coach to revise his system of play he sought out for a move away from the club. Oscar would have suited any club in the English Premier league considering he stole Juan Mata’s position at the club and deposed Ricardo Kaka by claiming the number 10 position at the Selecao.

Oscar broke Hulk’s Asian record in December 2016 when he joined his Brazilian teammate at Shanghai SIPG for £60 million.

Axel Witsel ignored European giants for Chinese Super League

Axel Witsel was part of a young Standard Liege side and was courted earlier on by the big clubs but a transfer to Benfica FC followed suit but soon the football world saw him join Hulk at Zenit St.

Petersburg under Spalletti. A.C. Milan wanted the services of Axel Witsel to play as a trequartista – a role behind the strikers that was vacated by Kevin-Prince Boateng. He decided to go to china in January 2017 and now plays for Tianjin Qianjian a team managed by former Italy captain Fabio Cannavaro.


A combative midfielder who could rival any other midfielder in the modern game was not only a club icon but also gave everything to the Brazilian National Team. After transferring to Tottenham in the Premier league in 2013, Paulinho became a much sorted player but after the FIFA World Cup Brazil 2014 his performances were unconvincing and within a twinkle of an eye he left for Guangzhou Evergrande to help in the development process of Chinese football.

European football miss a player with his combative style considering he never made an appearance in the UEFA Champions league.

Freddie Guarin

As part of the UEFA Europa league winning squad of FC Porto, Guarin transferred to Internazionale Milano to join the new project financed by Indonesia billionaire Erick Thohir. The Colombian disappeared from television screens till the football world got to know that he is part of the Chinese Super League contributing to the success of Shanghai Greenland Shenhua FC.

Everything comes at a cost and the development of football in China is no exception. These footballers are talents that joined the East and contributed much to the West but their talents were rare and would bring invaluable to the fortunes of the Chinese Super League.