Chinese clubs are spending exorbitant amounts to buy the best soccer players in the world

Ramires soccer ChinaReuters/Jason CairnduffChelsea’s Ramires and Manchester United’s Cameron Borthwick Jackson in the Barclays Premier League 28/12/15

Chinese soccer clubs have gone on a buying spree, bidding for and signing some of the best players in the world for exorbitant amounts.

In late January, British Premier League club Chelsea sold Brazilian international midfielder Ramires to Chinese team Jiangsu Suning in a $36 million deal, while Colombian international Jackson Martinez has signed to Guangzhou Evergrande from Spanish team Atletico Madrid in a deal worth around $46.7 million.

They join the likes of former Arsenal and Roma striker Gervinho, Brazilian internationals Gil, Paulinho and Robinho, and Colombian Fredy Guarín in the country.

In all, Chinese clubs were behind three of the four biggest deals in the winter transfer window, according to The Financial Times.

Chinese soccer is growing at a rapid pace. President Xi Jinping is a soccer fan, and he has said he hopes Chinese teams can become among the best in the world. The Chinese Super League had an average attendance of 21,800 in 2015, up around 17% on the previous year, and not far behind the top leagues in France and Italy.

The leading team in the country has been Guangzhou Evergrande, which is part-owned by Alibaba founder and billionaire Jack Ma. It won its second consecutive continental title in 2015, besting Dubai club Al Ahli in the AFC Champions League final.

In December, the team beat Mexican club Club América in the quarter-final of the FIFA World Club Championship, before losing 3-0 to Barcelona in the semi-final. The team then fell to Japanese club Sanfrecce Hiroshima in the third-fourth playoff. The team is managed by World Cup winning coach Luiz Felipe Scolari.

The shopping spree shows no signs of slowing.

It has been reported that former African player of the year Yaya Toure could earn $43.7 million a year in China, while British tabloid The Sun is reporting that Chelsea have rejected a $83.1 million bid from a Chinese club for Brazilian playmaker Oscar.

This is a picture of the paper’s backpage on Friday.

Friday’s Sun back page;

Great haul of

— Nick Sutton (@suttonnick) February 4, 2016

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