Brazilian players find home in China's Super League

Updated: 2015-03-02 05:09


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Brazilian players find home in China's Super League

Guangzhou Evergrande's Brazilian striker Elkeson de Oliveira Cardoso signed a new four-year contract with Guangzhou Evergrande, the club announced on March 1. The new contract will expire on Feb. 28, 2019. Elkeson celebrates after scoring against Jiangsu Sainty in this file photo taken on Aug 9, 2014. Liu Dawei / Xinhua

The top goal scorers in China's Super League might sound familiar — to a Brazilian soccer fan.

Half of last season's top 10 are from Brazil with just one Chinese player, Shanghai SIPG midfielder Wu Lei, on the list. When the league kicks off on March 7, Elkeson de Oliveira Cardoso, Anselmo Ramon, Davi Rodigues de Jesus, Vagner Love and Bruno Meneghel will have even more company.

Chinese clubs have been involved in three of the five biggest trades during the current Brazilian transfer window, a period that allows the Latin American teams to buy and sell players from Jan 23 through April 16. Cruzeiro attacker Ricardo Goulart's 16 million euro ($18.3 million) move to Guangzhou Evergrande was the most expensive soccer player sale from Brazil to China.

"China is the new El Dorado for football," said Marcos Motta, referring to the legendary land of gold. He spoke after returning from Asia, where he acted on the deal that took Argentine Dario Conca from Rio de Janeiro-based Fluminense to Shanghai SIPG, a team owned by the Shanghai International Port (Group) Co Ltd.

"From the conversations I had there with club presidents, owners, president of companies and governors of the cities, they will not stop," Motta said.

China's clubs spent $101 million importing players in 2014, triple the $28 million spent a year earlier, according to soccer's global governing body FIFA. One-third of the 74 foreign players in China's 16 top division clubs are Brazilian.

Transfer fees are rising as well. China bought 20 players from Brazil in 2012 for $9 million in fees, FIFA said. Last year, the fees for the same number of players climbed to $40 million.

The salaries in China are often "much, much higher" than the athletes could get in Europe, with several of the world's best-paid players competing in the Super League, Motta said. While in Brazil, some players have had to go to court to get paid.

Goulart, 23, was linked in local media reports to European teams including Monaco before moving to Guangzhou in southern China. He denied the move to China would hurt his national team chances.

"The world is so connected today you know as much about what's happening in China as you do about England," Goulart told reporters before traveling to Asia.

The forward would not have received such favorable terms had he moved to Europe, according to Eduardo Carlezzo, a Sao Paulo, Brazil-based sports lawyer who specializes in international transfers.

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