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Jackson Martinez in a rare outing for Guangzhou Evergrande. Photo: EPA

Is US$52m write-off Jackson Martinez the biggest flop in Chinese Super League history?

Colombian striker released by champions Guangzhou Evergrande after costing US$12.3m per goal but other failures give him a run for his money as worst signing

After two years blighted by injury, Chinese Super League champions Guangzhou Evergrande have released Colombian striker Jackson Martinez.

The 31-year-old arrived in Guangdong from Atletico Madrid but his career has stalled as he has made just 16 appearances, the last in October 2016.

Martinez is now looking for a new club as he tries to ignite his bid to play in the World Cup in Russia, while Evergrande are happy to write off his US$52 million transfer fee.

Having scored just four goals – at a cost of US$12.3 million per goal – is Martinez the biggest flop in Chinese Super League history?
Shanghai Shenhua’s Carlos Tevez looks on during the Shanghai derby. Photo: AFP

Carlos Tevez

What else can be said about Tevez? The Argentine striker arrived at Shanghai Shenhua with much fanfare but treated his time in China as a funfair, famously opting to go to Disneyland over watching his teammates. Even accounting for injuries, his four-goal return was poor and being dropped for the cup final summed up a season that was best forgotten. Laughed his way back to Boca Juniors to count his millions at the start of the year.
Germany’s Carsten Jancker jokes with Michael Ballack during a training session. Photo: AP

Carsten Jancker

The big German target man became a target for ridicule in his brief spell at Shanghai Shenhua where he failed to hit the target in seven games. The lack of return from the former Bayern Munich hitman saw the 32-year-old denied a contract renewal. Shenhua finished runners-up in the CSL that season, 17 points behind Shandong Luneng. Jancker described it as a one of the “darkest moments” of his career ruing that he should have done “much better” in the CSL.

Eidur Gudjohnsen

Iceland’s most famous footballer moved to CSL debutants Shijiazhuang Everbright from Bolton Wanderers in 2015 and the 36-year-old former Barcelona and Chelsea forward scored once for the Chinese side, a penalty against Shanghai Shenghua, as the side finished seventh.

Gudjohnsen later moved on to Norwegian side Molde.
French striker Nicolas Anelka at a press conference held on his arrival at Shanghai Shenhua. Photo: AFP

Nicolas Anelka

Anelka moved from Chelsea to Shanghai Shenhua where he quickly became a part of Jean Tigana’s coaching staff before being named player-manager in a series of bizarre incidents that included not being paid by chairman Zhu Jun. Anelka also fell out with a fan in a hotel lobby after declining to bow to the crowd after a loss to the bottom side with struggling Shenhua trying to stave off relegation.


The Frenchman cut his losses and left for Juventus where he won the Serie A title.

Didier Drogba in action for Shanghai Shenhua. Photo: AFP

Didier Drogba

Eight goals in 11 appearance was not a bad return but the Ivory Coast international’s time at Shenhua was as troubled as his former strike partner Anelka. If circumstances had been different – being paid, example – then Drogba may have been the Stephon Marbury of Chinese football. Instead, he followed Anelka out of Shenhua in 2013, joining Galatasary two days after the Frenchman had signed for Juventus, where he won the Turkish Super Lig. He also won a Premier League and the League Cup with Chelsea leaving Chinese football fans wondering what might have been.
Ghana striker Asamoah Gyan takes part in a training session at the 2010 World Cup. Photo: Reuters

Asamoah Gyan

The Ghana captain was the star of the Black Stars as they won the world over by making it to the quarter-finals of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa but he shone a little less brightly during his time at Shanghai SIPG. Gyan made 20 appearances over two years and while his goal return was creditable it was not befitting a man reported to be among the world’s best paid players. The 30-year-old left for UAE side Al Ain having “failed to live up to expectations”.

He currently plays for Turkish side Kayserispor.

After a European adventure with Atletico Madrid, Wanda wanders back home to Dalian to take a tilt at the Chinese Super League with Yifang
Frederic Kanoute wins the ball during the AFC Champions League against Bunyodkor. Photo: Xinhua

Frederic Kanoute

A former African Footballer of the Year, Kanoute scored 12 goals over two seasons for Beijing Guoan after arriving from Sevilla. He never quite hit the heights of his earlier career before calling time on his playing days in 2013. Kanoute’s legacy in China saw him recommend current striker Jonathan Soriano to his former club.

Robinho in action against Bayern Munich. Photo: Xinhua


The mercurial Brazilian enjoyed a six-month stay at Guanghzhou Evergrande where he won the 2015 CSL title under countryman Felipe Scolari. The 31-year-old scored three goals in his time before leaving for Atletico Mineiro in his native Brazil.

For a player who had played for Real Madrid and AC Milan as well as making more than 100 appearances for Brazil he did not set the world alight in China. He’s currently in Brazil.