As electric Elkeson becomes the top scoring foreigner in CSL history, could losing him be the downfall of ‘Big Phil’ Scolari?
Guangzhou Evergrande moved the freescoring Brazilian on to Shanghai SIPG in the close season to make room for Jackson Martinez, but the Colombian has failed to fire so far while Elkeson has thrived
Feed the Elk and he will score. That’s what the chant at Shanghai Stadium should be for Elkeson, Shanghai SIPG’s star striker. The man Sven-Goran Eriksson poached from champions Guangzhou Evergrande in the transfer window scored twice in a comfortable 3-0 win over new boys Yanbian Funde on Friday night.
That brace made Elkeson the top foreign scorer in the Chinese Super League’s short history with 64 goals in three full seasons and the start of this campaign.
He overtook Ramirez – not Ramires – a journeyman Honduran forward who plied his trade in China in the latter half of the naughts.
Ramirez signed for Shanghai Shenhua in 2006 before dropping down a division to play for Guanghzou Pharmaceutical – now known as Guanghzou Evergrande – and firing them into the top flight. He spent another two seasons in Guangzhou before a move to Hangzhou Greentown, where he spent another couple of years.
During his time in China he scored 63 times in the CSL and another 19 goals in the Chinese Jia League (now known as League One) to be the only player to be golden boot in both divisions.
Elkeson might be the best foreigner but he still has some way to go to top the list for most CSL goals. He’s fourth on the all-time rankings and has third place in his sights: he’s just a single goal behind his former teammate Gao Lin.
Gao may be the closest for Elkeson to overtake but he is also the only one of the top three still playing – and still scoring – in the CSL. Both players have five goals in the league this season.
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Second on the list is Li Jinyu, whose 73 goals could feasibly be bettered by the Brazilian this season based on his 20-odd goal average since being in China. Li is the only Chinese player to win the CSL golden boot. And he did so twice.
Li scored his 73 goals for Shandong Luneng from the Chinese Super League’s rebranding in 2004 until retiring in 2011, winning three league titles along the way.
Li lies behind his strike partner Han Peng. Han is all-time top scorer on 88 goals, which he bagged in 14 years at Shandong Luneng before leaving at the end of last season.
Elkeson is certain to overtake Han’s haul if he stays another season in the CSL.
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The Brazilian’s move to Shanghai raised eyebrows at the time and in the light of the season so far it makes even less sense. Reigning champions Guangzhou Evergrande have crashed out at the AFC Champions League group stage while the team that ran them to the wire on the domestic front last season – and Elkeson’s new employers – Shanghai SIPG have topped their group at a canter with Elkeson scoring four goals along the way.
His replacement, Jackson Martinez, has floundered, particularly on the continental stage where he has failed to score. He’s not doing much better domestically. Evergrande might be top of the league but that is not down to the goals of Martinez. Gao Lin is leading the way for the reigning champions along with a Brazilian who might be able to fill an Elkeson shaped-hole in Guangzhou.
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Alan is in a rich vein of form while finding his feet following an injury that kept him out for the whole of last season. The former Red Bull Salzburg forward only made his league debut for Evergrande this year but he has three goals in four games since his comeback. He scored a goal and made an assist last week, and bagged a brace this weekend in their 2-1 win over Shanghai Shenhua, also winning a penalty that Ricardo Goulart missed, to keep his team top of the table.
WATCH: Alan’s goal for Guangzhou Evergrande against Shanghai Shenhua
Alan might never catch Elkeson but he looks like he has the talent to fire his club to their sixth title in a row. And his form has fans and pundits wondering whether that could have been part of another double if it was Alan rather than Jackson Martinez among the foreign player quota in Scolari’s AFC Champions League squad. Shoulda, woulda, coulda – the last words of Scolari?