Chinese Super League clubs were able to blow top Premier League, Serie A and La Liga sides out of the water with transfer and contract fees, though the division was treated as a joke by many.

At one time, it appeared that all the top football stars were just as likely to join a club in China as they were to move to the Premier League, La Liga or Serie A.

In 2016 the clubs who made up the Chinese Super League were able to fully use an astonishing amount of funds.

Stars such as Oscar and Ramires all swapped the English top-flight for a big-money move to Asia, earning eye-watering wages.

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Despite that funding, the league continued to be thought of as little more than a joke in many European countries.

Here, looks at five players who ruined their careers by chasing China’s money…


Halfway through Chelsea’s Premier League title-winning 2016/2017 season, Brazilian midfielder Oscar completed a stunning £60million to Shanghai SIPG.

Despite becoming a creative force in China, scoring 48 goals and assisting 86 more, Oscar has completely dropped off the face of the footballing world.

He has not played for the Brazilian national team since leaving Stamford Bridge for a £20m-a-year contract at Shanghai.

The 30-year-old has consistently defended his decision to move to China, where he has helped Shanghai to win the Chinese Super League and the Chinese FA Super Cup.

“I don’t think about leaving China. There is a great project for me here. Every football player, or every person who works, wants to earn money to help their families,” he told The Guardian.

Graziano Pelle

Having become a reliable goalscorer in the Premier League, Graziano Pelle departed Southampton for Shandong Luneng.

At the time of his move, he became the fifth-highest paid player in world football, netting an annual salary of £13m.

Unsurprisingly, he continued to score on a regular basis for his new club, netting 51 goals in 101 Super League appearances.

After winning the Chinese FA Cup, Pelle left Shandong at the end of his contract, before spending six months at Parma.

The 36-year-old is currently without a club after scoring just once in 13 appearances for the Italian side.

Alex Teixeira

After a stunning start to the 2015/2016 season, which saw him score 22 goals in 15 Premier Liga games for Shakthar Donetsk, Alex Teixeira was attracting interest from the likes of Liverpool.

Rather than moving to Merseyside though, it was Nanjing in China where Teixeira headed to in January 2016, joining Jiangsu Suning.

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He continued to be lethal in front of goal for the club, firing them to the Chinese Super League title in 2020.

But amid increasing financial problems, Teixeria was not handed a new contract, leaving China to join Turkish side Besiktas in January.


A crucial member of Chelsea teams that won the Premier League, Champions League, Europa League and the FA Cup, it was somewhat of a shock when Ramires opted to move to China.

Jose Mourinho’s sacking had seen his playing time decrease at the Blues, so the Brazilian opted to move to Jiangsu Suning.

He failed to win a trophy during his time in China before returning to his homeland to play for Palmeiras, who he left after just a year.

“I see a lot of people saying that I came to China just for the money, but that’s not true,” he told Goal in defence of his move.

“If you look at the situation I was going through at Chelsea at the time of the transfer you will see that I was [Guus] Hiddink’s last option in my position and this was frustrating me a lot.”


After stints at Arsenal and Roma, Gervinho made the shock move to Hebei China Fortune, who had just been promoted into the Chinese Super League.

He was just 28 when he moved to Asia for a fee in the region of £15m, though would make just 29 appearances in three seasons for the club.

The Ivorian had a stunning £130,000 goal bonus, though he was only able activate that four times.

Gervinho returned to Italy to play for Parma after two-and-a-half years in China, though he defended the level of football in the country.

Can you name other stars who went to China and ruined their career?


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