Will Superstars In CSL Big 4 Deliver In AFC Champions League?
The four CSL clubs Guangzhou Evergrande, Shanghai SIPG, Jiangsu Suning and Shandong Luneng, known as “Big Four”, will begin their journey in the AFC Champions League with the newly signed superstars.
The AFC Champions League defending champions Guangzhou Evergrande have no difficulty in passing the group stage although the top scorer Elkeson was sold to Shanghai SIPG for 20 million euros in January.
Guangzhou Evergrande have signed Atletico Madrid striker Jackson Martinez on a four-year contract for a fee of 42 million euros.
“Martinez will be the key to our ambition in 2016 to defend the Chinese Super league title and AFC Champions League trophy,” the club said on its website.
But the defense line of Evergrande is yet to be completed as Zou Zheng is still nursing his injury sustained in the FIFA Club World Cup semifinals last December. As China’s transfer window remains open until February 26, there could be more deals to come.
Shanghai SIPG is a new-comer in AFC Champions League, but the Brazilian striker Elkeson is a veteran. He scored the winning goal for Guangzhou Evergrande in the AFC Champions League final last November, helping the team to win the Champions League for the second time in three years.
Although the 26-year-old striker scored 77 goals in three seasons for Guangzhou Evergrande, he could be a sweet headache for Shanghai SIPG’s coach Eriksson.
Elkeson had a poor performance in the match against Muangthong United from Thailand in the qualifying stage on February 9 as he played as the winger. The centre forward position, now taken by Asamoah Gyan, shall release Elkeson’s power.
Jiangsu Suning, the former Jiangsu Sainty, shocked domestic and worldwide market by splashing out 50 million euros to buy Brazilian midfielder Alex Teixeria and 28 million euros for Chelsea midfielder Ramires. Former Manchester City and Brazil international striker Jo followed his compatriots Teixeira and Ramires as well.
With those stars, Jiangsu Suning’s biggest challenge ahead will be the tight schedule, as they have three matches to play in eight days, with two group matches in AFC Champions League and one CFA Super Cup match against Guangzhou Evergrande.
Shandong Luneng, who kept a low profile in the transfer market, signed Brazil centre-back Gil with a four-year contract.
Unfortunately, Shandong was in a tough group as they will fight against the J1 League champions Sanfrecce Hiroshima, the Thai Premier League champions Buriram United and South Korea’s FC Seoul.