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Football transfers: The Chinese pay big money

By Bikash Mohapatra
February 04, 2016 09:05 IST
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Football's winter transfer window closed on February 1, and, surprisingly, none of Europe's biggies made even a slight move, let alone sign a player.
Bikash Mohapatra/Rediff.com looks at the top deals over the last month.

IMAGE: Reuben NV/Rediff.com

A month when the top clubs stood still...

This may be an allusion to the Keanu Reeves starrer, but it also happens to be the truth.

Football's winter transfer window closed on February 1, and, surprisingly, none of Europe's biggies made even a slight move, let alone sign a player.

When was the last time this happened?

The likes of FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Manchester United, Chelsea, Juventus or Paris Saint-Germain staying idle for a whole month, involved in no activity whatsoever.

Usually, January is a busy month for the Premier League big shots. The period has witnessed the likes of Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra, Luis Suarez and Juan Mata being acquired in recent years. However, this time United, Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool were surprisingly quiet.

Mid-table clubs like Everton, Stoke City and Newcastle instead made a statement of intent during the period.

While there was no surge in activity across Europe, the fledgling Chinese Super League, desperate to make an impact, went full throttle, spending more than $200 million on fringe players.

The biggest deals completed this winter:

Jackson Martinez

Atletico Madrid to Guangzhou Evergrande (£31.8 million)

Jackson Martinez, Guangzhou Evergrande's marquee signing

IMAGE: Jackson Martinez, Guangzhou Evergrande's marquee signing. Photograph: Twitter (@GZEvergrandeFC)

A prolific scorer for FC Porto, the Colombian made a switch six months ago.

Initially, AC Milan agreed to trigger Martinez's 35 million euro release clause, only to pull out of the deal. Atletico Madrid was quick to pounce on the opportunity.

The 29 year old failed to thrive in Spain, finding the net only thrice in 22 games (all competitions).

Guangzhou Evergrande, managed by World Cup winner Luiz Felipe Scolari, didn't hesitate to fork out the money for him.

The result was a win-win situation for both, with the Spanish club making a 7 million euro profit on their investment, and Martinez heading to China to improve the country's footballing profile.

Martinez is, by the way, the biggest signing in Chinese football history!

Ramires

Chelsea to Jiangsu Suning (£25m)

Ramires during a Chelsea training session

IMAGE: Ramires during a training session. Photograph: Paul Gilham/Getty Images

The Brazilian was a Chelsea player for six years, winning five trophies with the 'Blues' during the time.

However, he never really cemented his place in the starting line-up.

Despite signing a contract renewal last October, it came in as no surprise when he accepted the lucrative offer from the Chinese club.

Giannelli Imbula

FC Porto to Stoke City (£18.3m)

Gianelli Imbula of France in action

IMAGE: Gianelli Imbula in action. Photograph: Ludvig Thunman/EuroFootball/Getty Images

At the start of the 2015-2016 season, the Belgium-born Frenchman belonged to Olympique Marseille.

He almost became an Inter player before eventually joining FC Porto in a deal worth 15 million pounds.

Seven months later the highly-rated player has moved to England, Stoke City paying a club record fee for someone who is yet to win a trophy.

It is a big gamble for the Potters who already broke the bank to acquire Swiss midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri in the summer. The onus is on coach Mark Hughes now to get the best out of the talented but erratic player.

Oumar Niasse

Lokomotiv Moscow to Everton (£13.5m)

Everton's new signing Oumar Niasse being unveiled

IMAGE: Everton's new signing Oumar Niasse being unveiled. Photograph: Twitter (@Everton)

The capture of the Senegalese may be construed as a panic buy by Everton.

After all, Oumar Niasse never played for a big club -- Lokomotiv Moscow having last won the Russian Premier League back in 2001.

On the positive side, he is a goal-scorer, having found the net 12 times this season, and can take the burden off Romelu Lukaku.

At least, that is what coach Roberto Martinez will be expecting from him.

Jonjo Shelvey

Swansea City to Newcastle £12m)

Jonjo Shelvey of Newcastle United

IMAGE: Jonjo Shelvey of Newcastle United looks on after their Premier League match against West Ham. Photograph: Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

At things stand, Newcastle United is a desperate side. And understandably so.

Despite having spent close to 50 million pounds in the summer transfer window, they are in the relegation zone.

Only one of those summer signings -- Dutchman Giorgino Wijnaldum -- has proven to be a success.

Florian Thauvin, another summer signing, was loaned back to the club (Marseille) he was acquired from.

Desperate to get things right, coach Steve McLaren has splurged another 30 million pounds this winter, saying it is a 'statement of intent' from the club.

Jonjo Shelvey is a seasoned player no doubt, but was unimpressive during his spell at Swansea City, so much so that the Welsh club let him go despite having renewed his contract in July.

Andros Townsend

Tottenham to Newcastle (£12m)

Newcastle's new signing Andros Townsend

IMAGE: Newcastle's new signing Andros Townsend. Photograph: Twitter (@NUFC)

Townsend's record is even worse than Shelvey's.

Having been loaned out more often than not in his first four years at White Hart Lane, the 24 year old was out of favour under manager Mauricio Pochettino.

That Tottenham have made Newcastle cough up 12 million pounds is good business for the north London club.

Whether he can deliver at Tyneside remains to be seen.

Gervinho

AS Roma to Hebei Fortune (£12m)

Gervinho during a training session

IMAGE: Gervinho during a training session. Photograph: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

A resounding flop at Arsenal, and having subsequently failed to make the desired impact at Roma, Gervinho was desperate.

In January, Roma coach Luciano Spalletti confirmed the Ivorian international 'wanted to leave at all costs.'

The Chinese club offered him an escape route, and the Romans made a sizeable profit.

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