Chinese Team Breaks Record to Pay $56 Million for Soccer Player

  • Brazilian Alex Teixeira departs Ukraine's Shaktar Donetsk
  • Teixeira becomes latest big money transfer to Chinese team

China has underlined its global soccer ambitions once again with little-known team Jiangsu Suning agreeing to buy Brazilian attacker Alex Teixeira for 50 million euros from Ukraine’s Shakhtar Dontesk, shattering the country’s transfer record for the second time in a week.

The power of Chinese clubs in soccer’s global player trading market has been growing and this year they showed they can rival Europe’s richest clubs in the pursuit of the best talent. Teixeira, who had been pursued by English Premier League team Liverpool before that club found his transfer fee prohibitively high, follows Colombian striker Jackson Martinez to Asia’s biggest-spending league. Martinez joined Guangzhou Evergrande from Spain’s Atletico Madrid for 42 million euros on Wednesday.

Chinese soccer had for years been in the doldrums until the country’s soccer-loving president Xi Jinping demanded the country raise its level of performance -- China has only appeared in the World Cup once. Some of the country’s wealthiest companies and individuals, including Ali Baba founder Jack Ma, have started funding professional teams.

“It all happened very quickly, in just a twinkling,” Teixeira, a 26-year-old who’s yet to play for the Brazilian national team, said on his former team Shakhtar’s website. Teixeira said he was on his way to training camp when his agent called him to say that the Chinese team had agreed to pay the 50 million euro fee. “I immediately wondered whether it would be good for me, my family, the club, and took the appropriate decision.”

Chinese teams have now spent more than 250 million euros on players in the country’s current trading window, which runs through Feb. 26, according to website Transfermarkt. That’s more than teams in any other league on the planet, including the Premier League, which is soccer’s richest.

Jiangsu Suning, which finished 9th in the last Chinese league season, recently agreed to pay England’s Chelsea 25 million pounds for its reserve midfielder Ramires on Jan. 27. The club has never won the top-tier championship.

Under Xi, China is trying to improve its soccer fortunes. The country is creating several new academies to try lift itself from an also-ran. China’s national team ranks 93rd in the world, below the likes of Botswana, Antigua and Uganda.

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