Oscar, Fellaini, Bakambu and the stars who could flee China

Carlo Garganese
Carlo Garganese Updated: 19 May 2021 15:43 BST 4 min read
Oscar, Fellaini, Bakambu and the stars who could flee China

China is set for a mass exodus of star footballers following the news that the Chinese Super League is to introduce a new salary cap.

The new regulations state that foreign players can earn a maximum annual salary of £2.7 million, while domestic players can be paid no more than £572,000.

This means that a number of high-profile foreigners will have to take massive pay-cuts in order to remain at their CSL clubs.

It is thus inevitable that there will be a mass exodus in the coming weeks and months. A number of stars have already quit the league, including Brazilian attacker Hulk from Shanghai SIPG.

Hulk, who was on £286,000 a week in China, has already been offered to a host of Premier League clubs but none have come in with an offer for the 34-year-old yet.

So who else could follow Hulk out of China from January onwards?

Oscar is the highest paid player in China, earning £18.9m a year – meaning he would have to have his salary reduced by 86% if he was to remain.

The former Chelsea star is still only 29 and will surely be attractive to a number of top European clubs.

Oscar, Fellaini, Bakambu and the stars who could flee China

Oscar, Fellaini, Bakambu and the stars who could flee China

Cedric Bakambu, the second highest paid player in the CSL on £336,000 a week, is also still only 29.


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  • Bakambu has scored 52 goals in just 71 games for Beijing Guoan and, with many European teams looking for strikers in January, will also be a very appealing proposition.

    Bakambu is still well liked in Spain after he scored 48 goals in just 102 games for Villarreal. Meanwhile, in Serie A alone, Juventus, Inter and AC Milan all plan to sign a backup striker this month.

    These three clubs have all been offered the services of another CSL striker in Graziano Pelle, who will leave Shandong Luneng after four-and-a-half years at the club.

    He is well-liked by Inter coach Antonio Conte, who worked successfully with him with the Italy national team at Euro 2016. West Ham are also reportedly admirers in the Premier League, where Pelle once played for Southampton.

    Oscar, Fellaini, Bakambu and the stars who could flee China

    Oscar, Fellaini, Bakambu and the stars who could flee China

    Another Italian to keep an eye on is Stephan El Shaarawy from Shanghai Shenhua. El Shaarawy was very close to returning to Roma in the summer. Both parties are keen for the deal to still go through in January, possibly on loan initially. Fiorentina are also keen.

    Elsewhere, there is likely to be a lot of interest in former Barcelona man Paulinho. The 32-year-old continues to be one of the most prolific midfielders in circulation, with an incredible 32 league goals in 48 games for Guangzhou Evergrande.

    Another prolific Brazilian is Jiangsu Suning’s Alex Teixeira, who has 72 goals in 150 games for the club. He could be on his way to Al Hilal. His team-mate, Italo-Brazilian striker Eder, could be an interesting option for Inter – who need a striker.

    Inter and Jiangsu share the same Chinese owners, so it is not impossible that some players could be moved over from China to their Italian base. Like Pelle, Conte worked with Eder at Euro 2016. He is also a former Inter player.

    Staying with Brazilians, Anderson Talisca of Guangzhou Evergrande was one of Europe’s most exciting talents only a few years ago.

    The attacking midfielder is still only 26 and has scored 39 goals in 65 games since arriving in China.

    Other experienced stars in China who still have plenty to give in Europe include Belgium duo Marouane Fellaini (who would bet against David Moyes signing him for West Ham?) and Mousa Dembele, Slovakia legend Marek Hamsik and Venezuela hitman Salomon Rondon.  

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