China has has overtaken America in enticing big names to leave Europe

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Geopolitically, they are one of the world's biggest super powers, but now, they look to be taking that very same approach into the world of football, especially if the latest dealings within this year's January transfer window are anything to go by.

With Alex Teixeira and Jackson Martinez becoming the latest big name players to make the move to the Far East - following in the footsteps Ramires and Gervinho - China have emerged as one of the leagues to be attracting some of football's bigger names to its shores.

When thinking about a top league outside of Europe where big players decide to go and play, the MLS is one of the first to spring to mind for many, however, that may all be about to change as the Chinese Super League has started to become more attractive and appealing for players who still have time on their side - not just a season or two left.


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In this article, we look at why players are deciding to head to Asia and why it has suddenly become such an appealing destination.

Big names already there

This winter's transfer signings has made China increasingly more recognised in the world of football but should we have been more aware of the league before now?

The league isn't as unknown as it was first thought in terms of attracting players, especially those who are still in their prime, and also managers who have earned an untold amount of achievements.

Guangzhou Evergrande, as mentioned are China's most superior team, have a head coach in the form of 'Big Phil' Luiz Felipe Scolari, who won the World Cup with Brazil in 2002; and a squad which consists of Martinez, Paulinho and Ricardo Goulart, who is considered to be one of Brazil's hottest prospects.

Other big names include Demba Ba, Fredy Guarin and Tim Cahill turning out for Shanghai Shenhua, whilst Sven Goran Eriksson is the head coach of Shanghai SIPG with Asamoah Gyan leading his front line.

Beijing has Serie A winning coach Alberto Zaccheroni in the hot seat and, as well as Scolari and Sven at Evergrande and SIPG respectively, there’s ex-Brazil boss Mano Menezes at Shandong Luneng and Dragan Stojkovic - not long ago tipped to be Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal successor - with Guangzhou R&F.


The reason is an obvious one - the money involved in the game, especially in China, would make anyone want to go over and play there.

Many businessmen, including Jack Ma founder of Alibaba (Chinese version of Amazon), have invested in many of the clubs within the league. Ma bought a 50% stake in China's most successful club, Guangzhou for $190 million, after the owners acquired the team for just $16 million four years prior.

The Chinese government have also given their backing to football, with President Xi Jinping being a particularly big football fan himself. Jinping had become frustrated the world's most populated nation have been unable to win a World Cup and, therefore, he and his government have created a scheme for school children to get them more involved with the sport.

Attendances and Revenues set to increase

Given China is considered by many as over-populated, attendances at domestic football games have been declining in recent years. However, this year's Super League, which is set to start in March, is the most eagerly anticipated yet.

Last season, average attendances were around 22,000 mark, which is on par with attendances the MLS manage to attract. However, those averages are expected to increase to 25,000, with officials anticipating it will become the third most-watched league in the world for attendance figures, behind the English Premier League and the German Bundesliga.

TV broadcasters are also confident Chinese football will become bigger in the near future, with them spending over $200 million in 2016 as part of a $1.25 billion package over the next five seasons for broadcasting rights. In comparison, they spent just $9 million last year.

With these reasons considered, it's hard to argue against the Chinese Super League's rise to becoming one of the top leagues outside of European football.

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