With both Marko Arnautovic and Rafa Benitez recently leaving the Premier League in favour of the Chinese Super League, more attention is finally being paid to football in Asia.

There have already been some extremely high-profile transfers from Europe to China, but how have those players fared since making the switch to the Far East?

We take a look at some of the CSL's biggest signings and how the players performed since making the switch.

Nicolas Anelka

French striker Nicolas Anelka of Shangha

Anelka's playing career has been one to marvel at, starting at Arsenal and making his way through ​Real Madrid, PSG, Manchester City, and Chelsea before moving to China.

The Frenchman was one of the pioneers of foreign footballers in China. Earning a huge £10m-per-year, he played 22 games and only scored three times - that's over £3m per goal.

Alexandre Pato

The Brazilian forward was a world-beater on his day and was brought to China by Italian legend Fabio Cannavaro for £15.5m. Pato managed to grab himself 15 goals in each of his two seasons in the Chinese Super League, before leaving Tianjin Quanjian to return to Sao Paulo.



The ex-Chelsea star experienced a mixed stint in China. A debut red card was followed by a league debut goal and assist. 2016 saw Ramires almost lifted the CSL as his side Jiangsu Suning came runners-up. However, the Brazilain was released in May after not playing since 2017.

Carlos Tevez


​Famously playing for both sides of Manchester, Tevez squeezed in a year at Shanghai Shenhua before rejoining Boca Juniors for the second time. He became the highest-paid footballer in the world, earning a reported sum of $41m per year, but he failed to impress, content with scoring only four goals in his 20 appearances. 

Javier Mascherano


The Argentinian is currently on his second season in China with Hebei China Fortune, after his first campaign with the club saw them narrowly miss out on qualification to the AFC Champions League. However, 2019 has seen Mascherano and his teammates struggle as they sit in the bottom half of the table. 

Axel Witsel

Axel Witsel,Yu Haochao

​Witsel is one of only a few players to return to the top of European football after moving to China. Signing for ​Borussia Dortmund for £18m last summer showed he hadn't lost any of his quality. 

While in China the Belgian managed to score Tianjin Quanjian's first-ever goal in the Chinese Super League as they finished their debut season in third place.



Robinho has featured in big-money transfers ever since ​Manchester City splashed the cash on him at the beginning of their rise to the top. 

He managed to win the CSL with Guangzhou Evergrande in 2015 as they narrowly edged out Shanghai SIPG by two points at the top of the table. However, it was fellow Brazilian Ricardo Goulart who ended the season as the club's top scorer.   

Jackson Martinez


Signing for then-champions Guangzhou Evergrande for a league record fee of £38m, only for his record to be broken two days later, Martinez won the Chinese Super League in his debut season. 

That being said, he has failed to impress, only scoring four goals in 2016 and making no appearances in the next two seasons before being loaned out to Portuguese side Portimonense.



​This one is pretty strange. The Brazilian left Tottenham for China in 2015 only to be signed for ​Barcelona two years later for £35m. 

A season in La Liga ended in a return to China for an even larger sum. Paulinho won the CSL title three times in a row, being especially instrumental in the 2016 campaign.

Didier Drogba

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Some may have forgotten this one but Drogba joined Anelka in Shanghai in 2012. Scoring nine goals in 11 appearances he was as prolific as ever, and managed to pocket a tasty £200,000-a-week at the same time. 

The ​Chelsea legend finished the 2012 season as Shanghai Shenhua's top scorer and after less than a year moved to Turkish side Galatasaray.

Mousa Dembele


Another to leave ​Tottenham for China. The Belgian performed brilliantly towards the end of his time in north London but hasn't been able to carry that form with him to Asia. 

It would not be wrong to wonder why the tenacious midfielder decided to leave European football with a couple of years left at the top of his game.

Alex Teixeira

Alex Teixeira

2016 saw Shakhtar Donetsk accept a £45m bid from Jiangsu Suning for the Brazilian, even though he expressed his preference to join Liverpool. Teixeira is currently in his fourth season at Jiangsu Suning and has already grabbed himself 55 goals at the club.

Yannick Carrasco


​Signing for Dalian Yifang alongside fellow Atletico Madrid star Nicolas Gaitan, the Belgian's time in China didn't get off to the greatest of starts, losing 8-0 in his first match for the club. 

Since then Carrasco has scored seven times in 25 matches and has been continually linked with a move back to European football, namely to ​Arsenal.



The powerful Brazilian was already used to playing in Asia due to his time in Japan during the early stages of his career. After leaving Zenit St Petersburg for a fee of £45m in 2016, Hulk was stretchered off in his first match. Since then he has played 61 matches and scored 36 goals.



Playing at Shanghai SIPG alongside Hulk and now Arnautovic, Oscar remains the record transfer for any Asian club at £60m. He has netted 17 goals since 2017 and has also been involved in brawl that led to an eight-match ban and pretty hefty fine.

Marouane Fellani

Marouane Fellani

There is no doubt that on his day ​Fellani could impact any match he took part in, especially coming off the bench. He is halfway through his first season in China and working with former Southampton striker Graziano Pelle as Shandong Luneng Taishan F.C. push for qualification to the AFC Champions League.

Ezequiel Lavezzi


Since joining Manuel Pellegrini at Hebei China Fortune, Lavezzi has been one of the players to flourish out in China. 2017 saw the ex-Napoli and PSG star score 20 league goals and top the division's assist charts.