The Chinese Super League (CSL) has become a hotspot for players looking to cash in on their brand, even long before they’ve reached their peak, allowing them to command exorbitant salaries for their services. French-born Congolese footballer Cedric Bakambu is now the most expensive player of African descent after completing a €76m (£67m) transfer from Villarreal to Beijing Guoan, according to 90min and other online sportsbook news.
The Chinese Super League is “super” competitive – that’s why Bakambu moved ….yeah right!
Unlike most of the other big clubs in the CSL that were founded slightly over a decade ago, Beijing Guoan has actually existed for some time as a semi-professional club – since 1951 – although it’s not that old relative to European football sides. 1992 marks the year they turned “pro” although the CSL wasn’t formed until 2004 – since then they’re won the league once (2009) while finishing as runner-ups on 3 other occasions (2007, 2011 and 2014).
Guoan agreed to pay Bakambu’s €44m (£35m) buy-out clause he had with Villarreal, however the overall transfer fee is set to nearly double, standing at a massive €76m in total. The Chinese government recently imposed high tax rates on foreign players, in attempts to promote their own home-grown talents. But this hasn’t deterred clubs that are backed by owners with deep pockets who spare no expensive when it comes to singing players that are sometimes not even regarded as world class and may, in the end, only spend a few seasons with the club before returning to Europe to play for some other side.
Along with Guoan dishing out tens of millions on his transfer fee, Bakambu will collect a hefty salary that’s rumored to be around a cool €18m (£16m) per season. We don’t know whether his paycheck is gross or net, but in either way we’re sure he’s not lacking for anything.
The high transfer fee doesn’t seem justified – for European standards at least
Unlike many other highly-prized footballers that start their careers early on, Bakambu’s career didn’t kick off until he was 19, making his debut with French side Sochaux in the 2010/11 season. He made 11 appearances, but didn’t score a single goal in his first professional campaign. But as the seasons went on his numbers managed to improve a bit, although not substantially with Bakambu scoring only 21 goals in all competitions during his four-year stay with Sochaux.
Look at how unhappy he is during his medical with his new club, as €18m a year can’t even buy him a decent shirt, as you can tell from the picture (source: Bakambu.com)
In the summer of 2014 he transferred to Super Lig side Bursaspor, where he became an instant hit finding the back of the net 21 times overall in 39 outings. But his performances quickly caught the eye of Villarreal and after only one season in Turkey he packed his bags yet again and headed to the shores of Valencia.
Just like his debut season with Bursaspor, Bakambu instantly integrated himself into the squad at Villarreal, scoring 22 goals in 50 appearances in the 2015/16 campaign, which made him become popular with online sportsbooks in Spain. However, what’s surprising is that his form dropped in the following seasons with the Yellow Submarine, as the Congolese forward scored only 12 goals. Luckily for him, he’s managed to make up for it this half-season which has seen him make 17 appearances and score 12 goals in the process.
But it still doesn’t warrant spending €44m (£35m) on his buy-out clause and then paying him €18m (£16m) per season, let alone the whole €76m (£67m) transfer fee. Bakambu hasn’t even managed to hit the 30-goal-a-season mark, so it doesn’t make sense paying that much for a player that will likely leave the Chinese Super League in merely a few years. But when you have billions to spend and own a football club, then I guess you can play real-life Football Manager.