Guangzhou Evergrande smash Asian transfer record with 42 million euro Jackson Martinez deal
Colombian star the latest big name to move to Chinese Super League
China’s record-busting winter transfer window shows no signs of abating after Colombia star Jackson Martinez joined Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao for €42 million (HK$357 million), a new Asian record.
Guangzhou confirmed the deal for the Atletico Madrid player on their website.
Chinese Super League clubs have spent more than any other league in the world this January as they prepare for the new season in March – and the transfer window does not close until the end of February.
And Guangzhou’s spending may not be over, with Italian sports newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport claiming they are battling with Jiangsu Suning for the signature of Alex Teixeira.
The Shakhtar Donetsk forward had been linked with a move to Liverpool this January before they balked at Shakhtar’s €50 million-plus asking price.
Martinez, 29, first starred in Europe with Portugal’s Porto, for whom he scored 67 goals in 89 games. But since joining Atletico last year in a €35 million deal, he has found goals harder to come by, scoring just twice in 15 games for the Spanish side.
He signed a four-year deal with Guangzhou and will join the team in Dubai on February 9 after a medical.
“It has been an honour for me to be a part of this club, but I think the time has come to start another stage in my career,” said Martinez on Atletico’s website. “We have talked a lot in the last days and we have agreed that this is the best for all of us.”
Guangzhou said they had been tracking the player for three years.
“The coach believes he’s a world-leading player who can help implement his tactics as we aim to become double AFC Champions,” said a statement on Guangzhou’s website.
The club said the signing met their goal of only signing foreign players from “world top-20” clubs and listed a remarkable lengthy list of effects the transfer would have:
“This will certainly help to improve the overall image of Chinese football, to attract more of the world’s best players to China; help boost China’s domestic players technical and tactical level, enhance the overall level of Chinese football; help improve the level of the Chinese football league, bring a high level of athletic performance ot the majority of fans; but also help promote the rapid development of Chinese football, enhance the international status of Asian football ...”
The transfer highlights China’s growing influence in world football: Atletico Madrid are part-owned by the company of one of China’s richest men, Wanda Group’s Wang Jianlin, while Guangzhou are part-owned by another, Alibaba’s Jack Ma Yun.
Martinez is represented by ‘super-agent’ Jorge Mendes, who was in Shanghai in January to meet and make plans with Zhang Dazhong, the CEO of Alibaba’s new sports business, Alisport.
Guangzhou are China’s most successful club, having won the league the last five years in a row and claiming the Asian Champions League twice in that time.
Chinese companies have been rushing to become involved in sport and football in particular, after the country’s government declared that the sports market would increase 15-fold by 2025 and president Xi Jinping said he wanted China to qualify for, host and win a World Cup.
According to transfermarkt.com, Chinese clubs have spent the equivalent of more than €200 million this winter. Chelsea midfielder Ramires joined Jiangsu Suning last week for €25 million in the previous headline-grabbing deal.
Meanwhile, Guangzhou will start their defence of the Champions League title behind closed doors after being punished by the AFC.
The club were punished for “a number of breaches of the AFC Champions League Regulations 2015 and Marketing and Media Regulations for AFC Club Competitions” during the second leg of the final, which they hosted.
Guangzhou were fined US$160,000 and ordered to play their first home match without fans.
“The breaches included filming the opponent’s closed training session, conducting an unauthorised post-match ceremony, infringing upon the commercial rights of AFC sponsors and numerous violations in relation to the organisation of the second leg, including significant safety and security failures,” said an AFC statement
It is assumed at least part of the punishment this refers to a controversial decision to change shirt sponsors for the match, ditching Nissan Dongfeng, who had a contract, for Evergrande Life, an insurance subsidiary of the team’s owner.
The Chinese Football Association were also fined US$10,000.