It was a mega-deal at the last minute: just hours before the China Super League winter window closed this week, East China football club Dalian Yifang announced the commitment of Yannick Carrasco and Nicolás Gaitán.
The 24-year-old Belgian and the 30-year-old Argentinean change from Atlético Madrid to the Middle Kingdom for 48 million euros. The high transfer fee is reminiscent of the transfer madness of the previous year, as Chinese clubs in the winter break a record amount of 388 million euros for new purchases paid.
And in the summer of 2017 made the long-drawn 35-million-euro transfer of French Anthony Modeste from 1 FC Cologne to Tianjin Quanjian headlines. But now the demand of the Chinese for players from Europe and South America has declined significantly.
“The whole league is unsettled, and that’s because of the new penalty tax,” says well-known Chinese sports commentator Yan Qiang. Official figures are not available yet. Yan Qiang assumes, however, that clubs have spent a maximum of one third of the sum of the previous year for signings before the beginning of this weekend season.
One hundred percent tax on foreign deals
Under the strict rules that have applied since last summer, China’s foreign star clubs must pay a wholly-owned tax on the transfer fee. For the transfer of Carrasco and Gaitán so over 90 million euros are due.
That it is not a good idea to bet on loopholes, is currently being felt by the German Roger Schmidt coached Beijing Guoan. Its president Zhou Jinhui wanted to be particularly clever: When the striker Cedric Bakambu in January changed from the Spanish first division club Villarreal FC in the Chinese capital, the Beijingers said that Bakambu his exit clause in the amount of 40 million euros “paid out of pocket”.
This, of course, no tax to pay, the club argued. The rebuke on the part of the Chinese Football Association must have been clear. Guoan announced shortly afterwards, complacently, “catching up with the relevant payments”.
Tévez disaster leaves its mark
The fact that it is not only becoming more difficult for Chinese clubs to sign up to foreign stars, but also to keep them, is clear from the case of Carlos Tévez. Last year, the Argentine moved from his home club Boca Juniors to Shanghai, where he was to receive an annual salary of $ 40 million.
But instead of playing brilliant football, Tévez drew above all criticism of Chinese fans who complain more and more often that foreign stars do not come to China for good football, but to once again to fill the pockets properly. The striker’s performance did not help correct that impression.
He was only 16 times in the season and scored four goals. That did not stop him from blaspheming about his adoptive homeland: “They just can not play football, Chinese players do not have technical skills like South Americans or Europeans by nature,” he said in a disreputable interview in September.
In January, Shanghai let him go again. It wants to focus more in the future on their own youth work and the promotion of Chinese talent, it is now in more and more clubs, which are thus also in line with the Communist Party.