The Brazilian midfielder Ramires is the latest Brazilian player who is on his way to China. Just a few months after he renewed his contract until 2019, Chelsea appear to have accepted a £20 Million bid from the Chinese Super League team Jiangsu Suning.
The move to Jiangsu Suning is a surprising turn of events, in that Ramires, reportedly, also had an offer from Juventus Turin last summer, but Chelsea refused to sell the midfielder at that time. Then, there were rumors that Ramires could move to Borussia Dortmund as a long term replacement for the German international İlkay Gündoğan, who could be leaving the club next summer. But now, instead of moving to another club in Europe, Ramires appears to be following the path of his former Chelsea teammate, Demba Ba, as well as that of countless other Brazilian players who have recently joined the Chinese Super League (CSL).
On January 12, FutebolCidade reported that the emergence of China’s football market has caused a shift in the global football market. In the past, clubs such as CSKA Moscow and Shakhtar Donetsk were the prime destinations for Brazilian and other South American talents who were looking for an entryway to European football.
It now appears that China is slowly replacing the post-Soviet space as the new honey pot for Brazilian talent. This winter, some of the best players who had participated in the 2015 Brazilian Serie A, had transfer propositions from Chinese clubs. The 2015 Brasileirão champion Corinthians, for example, has sold several key players to Chinese Super League clubs.
It is understood that China’s President, Xi Jinping, is a huge football fan, and that he believes China’s reputation as a world leader also needs to be reflected on the pitch. The government has, therefore, made the decision to invest heavily into the country’s football infrastructure. Similar to what happened in Russia, oligarchs and private companies are also expected to invest into football both at home and abroad.
Aside from investing heavily into Brazilian players, China also has long term plans to improve their national team. Hence, the government has added football as part of the nation’s educational curriculum and government officials hope to train 100,000 players by 2017. The ambition of Xi Jinping for China is to not only participate in the next World Cup finals, but also to host the tournament in the near future.
In order to make these dreams come true, China has decided to indirectly invest in their league by giving a 15 to 25% tax discount for companies that invest in CSL clubs. In an interview for Globo Esporte, the former Guangzhou manager, Sergio Farias, when speaking on the football investment in China, said, “They are not investing only because the president likes football, but because they want to take something from it.”
This winter CSL clubs have invested around £64 million in transfers according to Transfermarkt.co.uk—no league in Europe has spent more so far. Also, this number does not include the probable transfer of Ramires and it is expected that China will close more big name transfers in the coming week.
For a Football Beyond Borders interview of Ramires: click here