Chinese clubs focus on run-in after Real-dominated window

2019-08-02 05:40:19 GMT2019-08-02 13:40:19(Beijing Time) Sina English
Stephan El Shaarawy of Italy arrives at Pudong International Airport in Shanghai in this July 8, 2019, photo, following his move from Serie A's AS Roma to Shanghai Greenland Shenhua in the Chinese Super League. Stephan El Shaarawy of Italy arrives at Pudong International Airport in Shanghai in this July 8, 2019, photo, following his move from Serie A's AS Roma to Shanghai Greenland Shenhua in the Chinese Super League.

Even before the Chinese Super League's mid-season transfer window swung open at the start of July, Real Madrid was dominating the news agenda in a manner only Europe's most successful club can manage.

By the time Gareth Bale was hogging the headlines throughout the final two weeks of the month-long speculation-fest, Sergio Ramos had long since distanced himself from feverish rumors he was on his way to the ubiquitous 'unnamed Chinese club'.

But, as the curtain came down on a window that predictably yielded fewer big-name transfers than anticipated, Real had been unable to offload either of its aging and highly-paid stars and Chinese clubs were resetting their focus on the final stages of the domestic season.

Not surprisingly, it was Bale's proposed move to Jiangsu Suning on a rumored 1-million-pound-a-week (US$1.21 million) pay packet and the ensuing saga that captured the headlines.

The collapse of the deal two days before the window's closure overshadowed a window that was among the most active in recent seasons.

A 100 percent levy placed two years ago on all foreign transfers valued at over 5 million pounds had stymied the market, leaving clubs to seek ways to circumvent the new rules with loan deals and other creative approaches.

Those attempts, however, seem to have been put to one side this year, with Marko Arnautovic's 23-million pound arrival at second-placed Shanghai SIPG from West Ham United the headline signing of the summer.

The Austrian has made an immediate impression, scoring in each of his first two games despite not being fully fit after joining the CSL defending champion directly from his postseason break.

Salomon Rondon and Stephan El Shaarawy also landed in the CSL with Dalian Yifang, now led by former Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez, and Shanghai Greenland Shenhua, respectively.

According to Chinese outlet Titan Sports, around 100 million euros (US$110.32 million) in transfer fees was spent by 14 of the 16 CSL clubs from the opening of the window until its closure on Wednesday.

That represented a 60-percent rise, Titan claimed, on the sums spent in the corresponding summer transfer window 12 months ago, when clubs forked out 63.6 million euros.

Perhaps the biggest move of the window, though, came on the sidelines rather than on the pitch.

Beijing Guoan replaced coach Roger Schmidt with Frenchman Bruno Genesio, despite the club being in a strong position to challenge for its first CSL title in a decade.

Schmidt led Beijing to 13 wins in its first 14 games of the season, a run which saw the capital club occupy pole position in the standings. But three losses in its last six games, coupled with exits from the AFC Champions League and the Chinese FA Cup saw the board wield the ax.

Genesio will look to reinvigorate the team when he takes charge of his first game on Friday evening as Beijing takes on Hebei China Fortune as it looks to close the four-point gap on leader Guangzhou Evergrande as the CSL enters its final 10-game stretch.

(Agencies)

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