Brazilian international midfielder Oscar joins China super league football club Shanghai SIPG from Chelsea.

China’s football association said yesterday it plans a series of measures in response to “irrational” spending by clubs on transfer fees and player salaries, amid concerns that foreign stars are crowding out local talent and harming the country’s goal of becoming a global force in world football.

The Chinese Football Association said in a statement yesterday that the unidentified steps would target the “operations and management” of teams in the top-tier China Super League and the China Premier League one step below it.

The new measures will address “recent irrational investments by clubs, high-figure transfer fees and salaries paid to domestic and international athletes and other issues”, the CFA said in a news release.

Gaudy spending by Chinese clubs on players such as Argentina’s Carlos Tevez has drawn global attention, raising fears among some that foreign stars are depriving local players of opportunities to grow amid China’s bid to qualify for its second World Cup. It also hopes to host the event.

Other rules announced by the CFA appeared firmly aimed at addressing the lack of opportunities for Chinese players. They reduce the number of foreign club players who can appear at any given time from four to three and state that each team’s starting list must include at least two Chinese players under age 23.

Despite misgivings, Chinese clubs have continued to spend heavily over the past year to attract mainly South American stars. Apart from Tevez, whom Shanghai Greenland Shenhua said it paid US$11 million in transfer fee to Argentine club Boca Juniors to acquire, they include Oscar, purchased from Chelsea, Brazilians Hulk, Ramires, Alex Teixeira and Paulinho, Colombian striker Jackson Martinez and Argentine forward Ezequiel Lavezzi.

Altogether, CSL clubs splashed out close to US$300 million in the winter transfer window on big names.

However, Chelsea manager Antonio Conte is not wary of Chinese clubs poaching his players amid reports that a lucrative offer has unsettled English Premier League’s joint-top scorer Diego Costa.

Oscar and John Obi Mikel have already left Chelsea in the January transfer window, while media reports suggest playmaker Willian is also on the radar.

“I think we are a great club and it’s a great honor to play for Chelsea and for this reason I don’t see (China) as a threat for my players. Money is not everything,” Conte told British media. “When you play for a great team like Chelsea, you must be pleased. I have to look at the past. Oscar played with us, had a good offer from China and he went.”

Shanghai Daily

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