• Andrew Collins

Chinese Super League Top 10 Transfer Records

Updated: May 30, 2019

The Chinese Super League has broken its transfer record five times since the beginning of this year.

The recent signing of Zenit right winger Hulk by Shanghai SIPG currently holds the record for the most expensive player in CSL at around £48 million.


So what can we conclude from this infographic?

Although none of the players in top 10 are from Europe, 8 of them were bought directly from a European football club, only Elkeson and Ricardo Goulart were brought from outside. 8 of the 10 players are also from South America, with 6 of them representing Brazil and 2 players representing Colombia.

It seems that most Chinese football clubs are targeting offensive players. Apart from the rule that the goalkeeper has to be Chinese, a reason for the lack of foreign defenders in the league could be attributed to their need for offensive players instead. Importing these South American footballers brings that extra spark of creativity and vision that many Chinese clubs need. Also, Brazilian players have performed outstandingly, with Ricardo Goulart named as AFC’s MVP and Top Scorer last year.

An important detail to take into account is that the ‘top 10’ list above disregards some of the highest-paid foreign footballers in CSL such as Argentine striker Ezequiel Lavezzi and Ghanian striker Asamoah Gyan who are reported to earn £222,000 and £227,000-a-week, respectively.

This puts Gyan as the 6th and Lavezzi as the 7th highest-paid footballers in the world, trailing just behind the likes of Messi and Ronaldo. Especially for these football players moving to CSL, it is difficult to complain about joining a less popular league with their promised salaries.


For many, it is still quite shocking to see the amount of money being spent on international football stars by a country with an 81 FIFA Ranking and a league that two years ago was virtually unheard.

However, the CSL are reported to have spent nearly $300 million on transfer fees during the January transfer window, exceeding Premier League’s spending by more than $100 million. The growing wealth of Chinese investors, increased revenue streams, and the government’s decision to put professional football as a national priority are all factors contributing to a flourishing domestic football league.

Recently, the CSL began discussing a new “3+1” rule that will cut the number of foreign players per club for the 2018 season. Previously, each club was allowed four foreign players plus one foreign player from an AFC member nation, referred to as the “4+1” rule. For example, Shanghai SIPG currently contains 6 foreign players with the recent addition of Hulk and will need to rearrange their squad before the 3+1 quota fully takes place. This new rule is aimed at further developing home-grown players in China in hopes of creating a world-class national team. 

It seems £48 million is quite a lot for a player to join a CSL football club. But at this rate, it will only be a matter of time before the #1 transfer record becomes broken again.


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