Offering enticing transfer fees, wealthy club owners are signing on notable international names in the game.
The Chinese Super League, CSL, is set for greater heights, if one were to go by the reckoning of former Indomitable Lions Captain, Stéphane Mbia. Mbia, 30, spoke to Cameroon Tribune on May 19, 2017 in the Chinese capital, Beijing. The former Turkish club, Trabzonspor defender last year signed for Hebei China Fortune reportedly for a transfer fee of 4.4 Million US Dollars (about 2.6 Billion FCFA).
“Hebei China Fortune is a good club; very ambitious. The level of Chinese football is high and the players are good. Simply put, the league is interesting and salaries are competitive,” Stéphane Mbia explained. “Chinese football has a great future because the authorities are working hard. For example, at least 50 football academies will be created in the next seven to 10 years to help develop the game,” he added. Mbia said he would encourage Cameroonian players to try the Chinese Professional League because he thinks they do not know much about it.
The other Cameroonian in CSL this year is Christian Bassogog, the Most Valuable Player at the 2017 African Cup of Nations tournament in Gabon, which Cameroon won for the fifth time. The 21-year-old was sold to Henan Jianye FC by AaB Fodbold in Denmark reportedly for 8.7 million US Dollars (about 5 Billion FCFA). However, Stéphane Mbia and Christian Bassogog are not the first Cameroonian footballers to ply their trade in China. Others who have done so in the past include Clément Lebe, Albert Baning, Didier Njewel, Daniel Wansi, Aboubakar Oumarou, Jean-Paul Ndeki, William Paul N’Lend and Modeste Mbami.
The Chinese Super League has over the years become increasing irresistible as wealthy club owners splash huge sums to recruit international football stars – many still in their active careers - and also reputable, experienced coaches. Former Ivoirian Arsenal striker, Gervais Lombe Yao Kouassi, better known as Gervinho, also moved to Hebei China Fortune from AS Roma last year for a fee of 18 Million Euros (about 11.8 Billion FCFA).
Also in 2016, Chelsea’s Brazilian midfielder, Ramires, signed for Jiangsu Suning for a CSL record of 28 Million Euros (about 18.4 Billion FCFA). Inter Milan’s Colombian international, Fredy Guarin, last year joined Shanghai Greenland Shenhua for 11 Million Euros (about 7.2 Billion FCFA).