Beijing - Brazilian midfielder Alex Teixeira became China's
third record signing in just over a week on Friday when Jiangsu Suning snapped
him up for 50 million euros ($56 million) -- following earlier interest from
English giants Liverpool.
China's latest monster move came only three days after
Guangzhou Evergrande paid 42 million euros for Atletico Madrid's Jackson
Martinez, and nine days after Jiangsu's 28-million-euro purchase of Ramires
The hat-trick of record deals pushed China's spending in its
current transfer period, which closes on February 26, to 258.9 million euros,
higher than the 247.3 million euros spent by English clubs in the now-closed
January transfer window, according to the transfermarkt website which tracks
the sport's commercial dealings.
Teixeira's signing on a four-year deal from Ukraine's
Shakhtar Donetsk also shows China now has the clout to attract players in the
prime of their careers. The 26-year-old had been linked with a move to
Liverpool, one of the world's top teams.
"Everyone has always known that I want to stay in
Europe and transfer to a club in the English league. But unfortunately all the
offers I received from them weren't serious and didn't contain anything
specific," Teixeira told the Shakhtar Donetsk website.
"I now received a serious offer from China. I am of
course moving there."
China is pumping money into the beautiful game, hoping to
build a national football culture to match its rising economic and military
Chinese businesses have invested huge sums in football since
football-loving President Xi Jinping declared that hosting, qualifying for, and
winning a World Cup were national goals. Last year a powerful political
committee headed by Xi released a 50-point plan to achieve his aim.
Questions have been asked about whether some of the
transfers have been overpriced, with many of this season's deals involving
players in their late 20s -- albeit younger than the ageing stars who headed
east in previous years, cashing in at the end of their careers.
Also read: Liverpool target Cheryshev set for Real exit
Teixeira, though, is 26, and while he has not played for
Brazil's senior side, his signing indicates Chinese Super League (CSL) clubs
can also lure younger players.
The purchases are drawing international attention to China's
professional league, said David Hornby, sports business director of the Mailman
brand management group in Shanghai.
"Teixeira was one of the most sought after players in
the transfer window," he said. "The fact that a Chinese club can
fight off European competition for his signature is the clearest sign yet that
the CSL is stating its claim as one of the top five leagues worldwide."
- 'Insane money' -
Jiangsu Suning, based in Nanjing and coached by former
Chelsea player Dan Petrescu, have aggressively pursued foreign players.
The team -- then known as Sainty -- won the Chinese FA Cup
last year and in December were bought for a reported $80 million by Suning
Commerce Group, one of China's biggest privately-owned retailers with more than
The company's billionaire founder, Zhang Jindong, is a
member of the government's Chinese People's Political Consultative Committee, a
Communist-controlled debating chamber.
He is one of a number of Chinese tycoons who have rushed to
purchase clubs following Xi's pronouncement on the future of Chinese football.
Teixeira is a highly rated attacking midfielder, scoring 89
goals in 223 matches for Shakhtar, with whom he won five Ukrainian
championships. Jiangsu Suning praised his ability to "play any front position",
adding he "can also take charge of the wings".
"He's clearly a very, very good player," said Mark
Dreyer, a sports blogger in Beijing, but added: "He didn't go to Ukraine
for footballing reasons, and he's certainly not going to China for footballing
"It's kind of insane money," he said.
As Teixeira had previously expressed a desire to stay in
Europe, some Chinese fans mocked him on social media for trading in his
On Weibo, a Chinese version of Twitter, one commenter posted:
"In the end, he lost to the lure of capitalism."For
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