Will they stay or will they go now
Updated: 2012-11-06 00:54
By Tang Zhe (China Daily)
The Chinese Super League teams garnered worldwide attention as they bought high-profile foreign players to the country during the just-concluded season.
The question now is, can they get those players to stay?
French striker Nicolas Anelka was among the first big-name players to join when he signed with Shanghai Shenhua before the league started. He was joined by former Chelsea teammate Didier Drogba in June. At the top of the league, ambitious Guangzhou Evergrande brought in Lucas Barrios from Bundesliga team Dortmund in June. The 27-year-old Paraguayan striker was reportedly paid 6.7 million euros ($8.6 million) a year, surpassing teammate Dario Conca to become the highest-paid player in the league.
However, not all the big names have enjoyed a pleasant stay in China, and some are already planning their departure.
Drogba is one of the few who has indicated he will stay for next season. The 34-year-old, who contributed eight goals in his 11 games, said after Shenhua's 3-0 win against Qingdao Jonoon on Saturday that he was not 100 percent ready when he joined the team in the summer, and he was really looking forward to coming back to play after a full preparation next year.
His teammate Anelka seems less willing to stay. The 33-year-old was believed to have asked to leave the club after it signed Argentine coach Sergio Batista to replace him at the team's helm in May.
He didn't play the last game against Qingdao due to injury, and left the stadium before the game finished.
Conca and Barrios will probably stay in Guangzhou, as they would have to pay large sums to get out of their contracts, though they have both expressed their desire to return to South America.
Conca has said he wanted to return to Brazil after the season, and Barrios has reportedly been connected to Chili's Colo-Colo.
"No people from Colo-Colo have talked with me about the transfer," Chilean media quoted Barrios as saying. "Maybe because I have said I want to leave China … the rumors come out.
"There are also rumors saying that I will go back to Europe, but I can't decide that by myself," he said. "I still have a three-year contract with my team, and if other clubs want me, the only way is to pay (for the transfer)."
Eight-time Chinese league champion Dalian Shide is disappearing from Chinese soccer. Dalian Aerbin confirmed plans to purchase the debt-plagued franchise and combine the two clubs into one.
Dalian Shide, formerly known as Dalian Wanda, was established in 1994 and has produced many renowned national players, including Hao Haidong, Sun Jihai and Li Ming. It is regarded by local fans as the pride of the city after winning eight first division championships.
The club fell into a financial crisis this year, and just avoided relegation by finishing 14th in the league.
In an effort to keep the team in the city of Dalian, Aerbin boss Zhao Mingyang offered 320 million yuan ($51.2 million) to take over the club.
"This cannot be counted as a successful deal for our company, it could even bring many unpredictable risks for us," Zhao said. "But for those fans, who don't want their champion team and pride to be taken away, it is worth it."
According to Soccer News, Aerbin will hold a meeting this week to decide how to arrange the staffs of the two teams and whether to relinquish or sell Shide's CSL qualification.
Aerbin has already said it will not print the eight stars, symbolizing eight league championships, on its jersey.
"The glories of Shide have nothing to do with Aerbin, and we won't put the stars on our jerseys," Zhao said. "Aerbin is still a blank sheet, and we have to continue to work hard."
The result of the meeting will also affect the fate of another CSL team, Shanghai Shenxin, which has been relegated to the second division, along with Henan Jianye, after finishing 15th. If Shide gives up its CSL qualification, Shenxin will probably take part in a playoff game with Fujian Smart Hero, the third-place team in the second division, or even directly secure a spot in the top league.
According to the Oriental Morning Post, Shenxin has canceled its post-season vacation and the players will assemble this week to prepare for a possible playoff.
Contact the writer at email@example.com