The opening month of the 2017 Chinese Super League is drawing to a close, having heralded a new era for Chinese football.
Each team may now field only three foreign players per game, from a roster of five. For teams that wish to become the next success story, this poses potential difficulties. With opportunities for former European luminaries limited, new regulations could negatively affect the entertainment factor – along with the marketability of the league.
However, here are six players that have stood out significantly in early days of the 2017 Chinese Super League, and could be great marketing weapons in the near future – regardless of their background or nationality. But who will fade, and who will flourish?
2017 Chinese Super League – Players to flourish
We start with a man who could yet become ‘captain fantastic’ for the underdogs of Guangzhou…
Jiang Zhipeng (Guangzhou R&F)
It is never easy to live in the shadow of a local rival, but Guangzhou’s less-celebrated club currently sits third, and above Guangzhou Evergrande. The team has yet to concede this season, and as a captain in the centre of the action, Jiang Zhipeng deserves some recognition at this early stage. Image Source: VCG/Getty Images
Elkeson Cardoso (Shanghai SIPG)
The fixture computer blessed Shanghai SIPG with a relatively easy start. From midfield, Cardoso has capitalised on this, contributing three goals and is currently the league-leading club’s top goalscorer. Though tougher opponents lie in wait, he is backed by an excellent team that looks set to make a serious assault on Guangzhou Evergrande’s crown. Image Source: STR/Getty Images
Wu Lei (Shanghai SIPG)
A winger by trade, Wu Lei has a reputation – domestically and internationally – for goal poaching. Throughout his career, Wu Lei has maintained an impressive record of around one goal in every two games. Already, he has two this season. Watch him closely. Image Source: VCG/Getty Images
Some harsh but truthful words in the gallery below…
Wang Dalei (Shandong Luneng)
After narrowly avoiding relegation last year, Shandong Luneng have enjoyed a good start, beating the reigning champions Guangzhou Evergrande in their last match. After keeping a clean sheet on the opening day (a 2-0 win over Tianjin Teda), Wang Dalei faced a number of vicious shots from Guangzhou’s finest and contributed much to his team’s excellent win. While Shandong have made a good start, they still need to shake off the effects of 2016’s near-relegation, and it will take time for them to reach full potency. Image Source: Masashi Hara/Getty Images
Giovanni Moreno (Shanghai Shenhua)
Colombian midfielder is joint-top scorer after three goals spread across two games. In particular he was unstoppable against Jiangsu Suning. Yet Jiangsu appears to be little more than a relegation fodder club right now, and Moreno should be judged in another month’s time. Image Source: VCG/Getty Images
Ricardo Carvalho (Shanghai SIPG)
The 38-year old stands out simply by virtue of his wealth in silverware and experience. He has not yet made an appearance for his new club, but if he ever does, and the club’s remarkable unbeaten run is ended, then his reputation will fade quickly. All good things must come to an end, and the aged Carvalho, for all his credentials, is a likely fall guy. Image Source: “Crchao”/Weibo