The Impact of South American & European Stars on Chinese Clubs' Market Value Is Revealed
It may come as no surprise to learn that the Chinese Super League is absolutely booming at the moment.
With the vast reserves of cash enjoyed by some of China's most lucrative clubs, teams in the Far East have been able to prise plenty of talented stars away from European shores - and further afield - in the past few seasons.
What will be surprising, however, is data calculated by the boffins over at Danish sports company Better Collective, who have revealed the major factor behind China's huge growth - in footballing terms at least - in recent times.
It is, quite shockingly, the acquisition of talents from South American countries and not, strangely, poaching stars from Europe's biggest clubs that has led to an increase in market values of the likes of Guangzhou Evergrande and Shanghai SIPG becoming dominant forces in their home country.
In 2004, 28 of the 44 foreign players (63.6%) to ply their trade in the inaugural season of the Chinese Super League were of European descent. Just 12 years later in 2016, however, and that number has dropped to 16 in 82 (19.5%). Compare that to 38 South American players (46.3%) and it's now hard to see what's changed.
The Chinese Super League has diverted its gaze past Europe's shores, then, and headed in the opposite direction to cast its eye over South American clubs instead - and the results have been quite remarkable in terms of increasing how valuable their clubs are perceived.
As the graph above shows, there has been an explosion of the value that a Chineser Super League team is worth compared to nine years ago, and that appears to directly correlate with an increase in the amount of Latin American imports to the Far East in the last few years.
An average club has seen its value almost double in the past four years alone from €10m to €19.9m, and estimated projections have proposed that figure will double again by 2020.
The highest estimated value of a Chinese club was Guangzhou, who are worth around €65.37m - a whopping 1,930% increase on the most valuable outfit back in 2008 (Shanghai Shenhua, worth an estimated €3.4m).
That same 2,000% increase is staggeringly true across the board. In 2008, Changsha Ginde was worth just €170,000. Couple that with today's least valuable property in Yanbian Funde (€3.28m) and the maths worth out exactly the same.
It's not startling to suggest that South American players have had a great impact on Chinese club valuations. After all, clubs such as Santos and River Plate are much less likely to hold Guangzhou et al. to ransom over their best talents, whereas many European sides could, give the latter's own deep pockets.
With South American influence in China only continuing to grow - the five all-time most expensive signings made by Chinese Super League clubs hail from either Brazil or Colombia - and Europe's steadily waning, it is safe to predict that the likes of Guangzhou, both Shanghai clubs and Jiangsu Suning will continue to plunder Latin America for new stars.