There was Chinese interest at the top of Europe’s three biggest leagues at the weekend where mainland-owned clubs were involved in top-of-the-table clashes in England, Italy and Spain. Arguably, this is a watershed moment since Chinese money was funnelled into European clubs in recent years – and at a time when the NBA has put renewed focus on China’s soft power in foreign sport. Granada travelled to the Bernabeu to face Real Madrid in a top-of-the-table clash having already beaten Barcelona this season. The newly promoted side were second behind the hosts in the standings before kick-off and would have gone top with a win. They lost 4-2 in the end but Zinedine Zidane’s side were scared. Granada pulled the score back to 3-2 after being 3-0 down before James Rodriguez settled matters in injury time. What is more surprising is that they did this with players that played for them in the Segunda Division last season. Eight of their starting 11 on Sunday were with them as they got promoted under manager Diego Martinez. Of the players they brought in this summer, the most expensive was € 3 million (US$3.3 million) signing Darwin Machis. This has not been a case of throwing cash at the club. Jiang Lizhang’s Desports invested in the club in 2016, taking over the majority shareholding from the Pozzo family, who own Serie A side Udinese and English Premier League side Watford. Even after losing in the capital, the Andalusian side remain fourth, behind only the three biggest teams in the country – the Clasico giants of Real and Barcelona and the leaders’ city rivals Atletico Madrid. If the league finished tomorrow they would be in the Uefa Champions League next season. The game will better remembered for Eden Hazard opening his account for Real Madrid but, in time, the weekend could be seen as a new dawn for Chinese-owned clubs. Another of them was involved in a top-of-the-table clash in Italy where Inter Milan hosted Juventus in the most anticipated Derby d’Italia in a decade. Suning-owned Inter were top of Serie A going into the game, and the only team in the league with a 100 per cent record. Not even serial champions Juventus could boast that. Despite being unbeaten they had dropped points at Fiorentina in week three. Something had to give and it was Inter as they lost a thrilling game 2-1. Nonetheless, they are a point behind Juve and have genuine title aspirations for the first time in years. Belief stems from the arrival of Antonio Conte and the decisions he has made. Out went big names Mauro Icardi to PSG, Radja Nainngolan to Cagliari and Ivan Perisic to Bayern Munich, Romelu Lukaku from Manchester United was the only expensive recruit – but the summer’s spending will be covered if the options to buy are exercised on Icardi and Perisic. This relative success is a stark contrast from the situation at the team who share the San Siro. It is a year since Elliot Management took over control at Inter’s rivals AC Milan, with the US wealth management fund taking over from Chinese investor Li Yonghong after he deferred on repaying a loan. The side sit 13th going into the international break. Mismanagement has long been a concern for fans of clubs taken over by foreign owners, with the other major issue one of sports washing. Fans of these three clubs can certainly have no issue with the way their clubs are run. These three clubs offer ownership models that appear to work and perhaps nowhere more so than in Wolverhampton. Fosun-owned Wolves went to the Etihad to play English Premier League champions – and Chinese minority owned – Manchester City on Sunday afternoon, with league leaders Liverpool eight points ahead of the team they pushed all the way last season. | INTERVIEW "We have the right mentality and attitude, that's for sure" - Milan Skriniar Listen to what our defender had to say after #InterJuventus below #ForzaInter ⚫️ pic.twitter.com/WyOh0gtlz1 — Inter (@Inter_en) October 7, 2019 It was the same gap at full-time thanks to a pair of goals from Adama Traore, both coming on the counter as the champions chased the game. Nuno Espirito Santo’s side were in “crisis” a week or so ago but the last week has seen them win both of their Premier League games – more than doubling their points for the season and also win again in the Europa League, where they travelled to Istanbul and beat Besiktas. This is a club who entered the season with ambitions of cracking into the top six teams in the table. Beating Manchester City shows that such ambitions are not as misplaced as people dismissed them after a tough start to the season. All three of these teams are three years into their Chinese ownership, having been bought in the summer of 2016. Those three years have seen Wolves and Granada return to their respective top flights. There is reason for optimism at all three clubs. Wolves, who have risen in value from the US$55.3m Fosun paid to US$450m and redeveloping their Molineux Stadium, are in Europe for the first time in nearly 30 years while Granada supporters can start to dream. Inter fans are in the Champions League, daring to dream of even more and they will soon have a new San Siro to call home. That is enough for fans of even Europe’s biggest clubs to be looking longingly in China’s direction, and maybe even enough to ignore difficult questions down the line.