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Chinese Super League

Chinese whispers: wine lake for Andres Iniesta, Adam Johnson to China and airport shaming – this week’s truth and lies in Chinese football

Clickbait websites and social media make Chinese Super League stories hard to take at face value plus social media reaction

PUBLISHED : Friday, 09 March, 2018, 3:57pm
UPDATED : Friday, 09 March, 2018, 3:57pm

You’ll have read everywhere that Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta is the subject of a bid from Chinese Super League side Tianjin Quanjian where he will earn 35 million (HK$337.9 million, US$43.1 million) a year. His contract will also include a “wine clause” where the club would also commit to buying 2 million bottles from the 34-year-old World Cup winner’s winery.

Reports appeared all over Europe, with the Italians saying it was in the German and English press, the English saying the Spanish and Spain saying reports came from China.

The exact same story – minus the wine – was reported in Catalan daily Sport in mid-February. Perhaps someone has been at the bottle?

Chelsea forward Eden Hazard spoke in defence of his international teammate Yannick Carrasco’s recent move to Dalian Yifang in a widely-reported interview with La Derniere Heure. Hazard said Carrasco wanted to leave Atletico Madrid in order to play more games and that he believes the winger will play in China.

“It seems a bizarre choice but he has his reasons, I’m sure of that. I don’t have any problem with those [Red] Devils who go to China.” Expect this to be twisted into Hazard to China by the time the World Cup comes around.

The Sun report in an “exclusive” (that is also in the Daily Mail) that disgraced former England international Adam Johnson is looking to rebuild his career in China upon his release from prison. The Sun’s article rules out the possibility of the MLS as the US refuses entry to convicted sex offenders but neglects to consider that the same problem would likely befall Johnson in China. While the entry-exit regulations do not proscribe visas for particular acts, China has turned people away for much less.

Dream Team picked a Chinese Super League Imported XI – well, they picked a 10 because of the ban on foreign goalkeepers. In the line-up were the aforementioned Carrasco and Jiangsu Suning defender Gabriel Paletta. The pair have played one game each – and the former lost 8-0.

There was no place in the team for Hebei CFFC’s Ezequiel Lavezzi – 20 goals and 15 assists last season – or Tianjin Quanjian’s Alex Pato but despite being overlooked for what he has done on the pitch, Pato got some recognition for his social media game.

The former Golden Boy was named the third most influential player in world football on Chinese social networks behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Leo Messi. The poll by All-Star Partner (Beijing) and Spanish newspaper El Mundo Deportivo as reported by Fox Sports Espanol this week. The study took into account Weibo, Toutiao and Dongqiudi platforms.

Pato got more attention from Chinese netizens on Sina.com.cn and Sina Weibo this week for an interview with Brazilian site Glamurama where he said that “Chinese girls are beautiful and elegant” and a post regarding actor Dileraba. Even his teammates got involved on Weibo. Pato told teammate Yang Xu to “Take your chocolat and go to sleep HAhahaha [crying emoji]” after Yang publicly told him to cool his jets.

Meanwhile, the Daily Mail got a story out of the “embarrassment” faced by Jose Fonte when the new defender was greeted by just one fan on arrival. Why would that be a story when Shanghai is 1,000km and a two-hour flight from Dalian?

Another new face in the CSL, Hebei signing Javier Mascherano talked to a number of outlets including TyCSports in Argentina and revealed the reason he moved to China was in order to move back to midfield – his preferred role. He won several shiny trophies as a defender at Barcelona but was back in his favourite No 5 position on his Hebei China Fortune debut. They drew 1-1 with Tianjin Teda.

Jiangsu Suning midfielder Ramires was linked with a move to Inter in January and spoke to the press in his homeland about the rumours saying he has a desire to play in Europe again but his focus is on his current team. Quotes from his interview with Universo Online did the rounds in English media and Chelsea fan sites with a focus on his desire to play for Chelsea again before his career ends.

Tribal Football pointed to Turkish football site Fotomac to suggest that Galatasaray’s Cape Verdian striker Garry Rodrigues was wanted by “a number of Chinese clubs” in the last transfer window. Why they chose to publish this news this week in relation to Newcastle United going head-to-head with these unnamed Chinese clubs is anyone’s guess. Much like the Chinese club that Besiktas fans supposedly want to sell Jeremain Lens to, according to Sport Witness, after the disappointing Dutchman made his move from Sunderland permanent.

Burst bubbles and messy rumours – end of CSL transfer window confirms calmer, domestic focus for Chinese football

In other hard-to-believe stories, Chinese football fans reacted with incredulity to the news from the Chinese Football Association that only two clubs had paid transfer tax. Beijing Guoan coughed up for Cedric Bakambu – now the most expensive African footballer because of that luxury levy – and Jonathan Viera, while Dalian Yifang doubled dipped for Yannick Carrasco.

Goals galore, Banksy, and packed stands – Fuligans and Guangzhou derby fine advert for Chinese Super League on opening day

Some social media users joked that Carrasco will have been upset that they paid so he couldn’t head straight back to Madrid while many more called for more transparency on deals including the one that saw Carrasco’s teammate Nico Gaitan arrive in Dalian for less than 6 million.

Finally, the CSL has a new sponsor for the season: Eastroc. According to SportsPro, the league’s official energy drink supplier also pledged to donate to a youth development fund for every goal scored by an under-23 player. Payments due for the 33 goals on matchday one? Just the one thanks to Huang Zichang of Jiangsu Suning. Could be a cheap season for Eastroc Super Energy Drink.