Anderson Talisca and Paulinho form proves Chinese Super League clubs remain reliant on quality of foreign footballers
Guangzhou Evergrande’s Brazilian trio cannot stop scoring, hitting rivals Shandong Luneng for four as they look to claim an eighth championship
A look at the Chinese Super League table essentially offers you a snapshot of the team with the best foreigners.
And the very best of them might just be Anderson Talisca.
With his shock of blond hair the Brazilian midfielder is hard to miss but it is his form since arriving at Guangzhou Evergrande that has stood out since he hit a hat-trick on his debut in July.
The 24-year-old added another double in the 4-1 dismissal of title rivals Shandong Luneng on Saturday night.
He has scored 11 goals in eight games since arriving from Benfica in the summer and this form underlines the importance of foreign footballers to the CSL.
Evergrande have kicked on since Talisca joined and Paulinho returned, with the latter offering eight goals and five assists in the eight games, one more goal in the win in Jinan.
Ricardo Goulart, another Brazilian, scored their other goal as the team leapfrogged their opponents to go third behind leaders Beijing Guoan and Shanghai SIPG.
The form of the attacking triumvirate is such that there is no way back into Fabio Cannavaro’s team for Alan Carvalho, the team’s best player at the start of the season before his 10-game suspension for hitting out at a defender.
Alan has not played again since that game and has missed out on the last seven squads following serving his ban.
The importance of foreign imports, despite the rules limiting them, cannot be overstated.
Only three domestic players scored across the eight games, with 25 of the 28 goals being scored by foreigners – 89 per cent of the goals came from foreigners.
CSL top scorer Wu Lei did not play for Shanghai SIPG on Saturday allowing everyone else a chance to get closer to his 18 goals.
Wu aside, all of the leading scorers are foreign and most of the 13 players chasing him down in the scoring charts took the opportunity, including teammates Elkeson and Hulk with the Brazilians scoring in a 2-1 win over Henan Jianye. Ricardo Vaz Te netted for the visitors.
Changchun Yatai’s Odion Ighalo hit a 16th goal of the season to match last season’s top scorer Eran Zahavi. The Nigerian’s last minute equaliser helped his side to a share of the spoils against Hebei China Fortune.
Argentina striker Ezequiel Lavezzi opened the scoring for Chris Coleman’s visitors before Adrian Mierzejewski drew the hosts level. Recent arrival Ayoub El Kaabi put them back in front inside the last 10 minutes, only for Ighalo to pop up at the death.
Fourth top scorer Cedric Bakambu did not but his teammate the Brazilian international Renato Augusto hit a hat-trick in a 5-2 away win over long-standing rivals Tianjin Teda, with Spain’s Jonathan Viera and China international Zhang Xizhe getting the other goals.
German Felix Bastians and Ghana striker Frank Acheampong, who hit his 13th goal of the season, scored for the hosts.
Nyahsa Mushekwi scored for Dalian Yifang in their 1-1 draw with Chongqing Lifan. Ding Jie scored for the second bottom side.
Graziano Pelle got the consolation for Shandong Luneng’s loss to the champions.
China international Zhao Xuri got the only goal of Tianjn Quanjian’s Friday night win over bottom side Guizhou Zhicheng.
Shanghai Shenhau lost 3-1 at Hongkou Stadium to Beijing Renhe. Demba Ba scored for the hosts in time added on after three goals in the opening half-hour from the newly promoted side – two from Senegal striker Makhete Diop and the other from Kenya forward Ayub Timbe.
One place above Beijing Renhe on the table, fifth-placed Jiangsu Suning kept their hopes of a Champions League spot with a 2-0 win over Guangzhou R&F. Eder hit his third goal in seven games and Alex Teixeira got the other.
It’s hard to argue that foreigners are doing anything other than thriving in Chinese football, so it was odd for Cameroon manager Clarence Seedorf to so pointedly remark that he would not be picking any players from CSL clubs.
Paulinho proved last season at Barcelona that he could play top level football despite having spent several seasons in China.
Axel Witsel made a scoring start to his Bundesliga career this weekend, in his first league game for Borussia Dortmund since leaving Tianjin Quanjian.
His former teammate Anthony Modeste is likely to prove the same success when he swaps China for Turkey and signs for Galatasaray in the coming days.
Even the CFA are aware of the importance of foreigners.
— Axel Witsel (@axelwitsel28) 26 August 2018
Why else would they be rumoured to be considering allowing Tianjin Quanjian to buy a new foreigner despite the transfer window being closed?
The club has lost Witsel and is soon to lose Modeste leaving only Pato and South Korean Kwon Kyung-won as the club looks to make its mark in the AFC Champions League.
Continental action returns this week and Quanjian visit J.League side Kashima Antlers on Tuesday night and the side were not fancied to progress even before they missed their flight from Beijing.
Ninth in the league and lacking quality, they could clearly do with replacing Witsel and Modeste to get their season back on track.
The rule in place for this season is that teams can play up to three foreigners in a match but have to play one domestic player under the age of 23 for each foreigner.
The unwritten rule is that the team with the best foreigners will win the league.