After a stunning Shenua victory last weekend, the second leg of the CFA Cup Final and Shanghai derby has suddenly become much more interesting as Chinese football fans revel in the excitement of a potential upset. The CSL season may have come to an end weeks ago but the finals of the CFA Cup and the AFC Champions League have added to the off-season interest that transfer rumours provide, meaning we are in the middle of an intriguing period for supporters in the Far East.
All to play for in round 2 of the Shanghai derby
SIPG and Shenua will lock horns for a final time in 2017 on Sunday and the game could hardly be better poised. Shenua grabbed a 1-0 win at their home Hongkou stadium despite the visitors being hot favourites even for that first away leg, and the pressure is now firmly on Andre Villas-Boas and his team to turn things around at the weekend and deliver the silverware everyone expects them to.
What makes this extra spicy is the fact that many already see SIPG as ‘bottlers’ given there lacklustre display against Urawa Reds in the semi-finals of the AFC Champions League, meaning Oscar, Hulk and co. are now under the kind of pressure they thought they had escaped from in European football in favour of some generous cheques.
Of course, SIPG remain the most talented and likely to win team, but the momentum is now all with Shenua who have arguably already achieved a big win regardless of the second leg result. Be sure to tune in for what could well be a thrilling final game on the 2017 Chinese football calendar.
Inter and Suning planning another cheeky deal?
Aside from the drama in Shanghai, most of the other juicy news that has emerged in recent days relating to football in the Far East has been transfer-based; as it always is. The most convincing CSL transfer stories at this stage relate to Jiangsu Suning due to Suning group also owning Serie A giants Inter. As I’m sure you can imagine, negotiations become a lot easier when you make the decisions at both the sending and receiving clubs.
This somewhat controversial and unique situation has already led to Jiangsu’s Ramires being set for a loan move to Inter in January, and reports in Italy now claim that Suning group are plotting a move that will see Inter’s ‘Gabigol’ sent to China. It’s fair to say Gabriel Barbosa hasn’t had the best of times since arriving in Europe for just over €30 million. The Brazilian forward scored just once for Inter during his first season there and has been sent on loan to Benfica as a result for this campaign. However, that also hasn’t really gone as planned and after making just two substitute appearances in Portgual his relationship with those managing him has become so frayed that he’s set to return to the San Siro in January.
Rather than keeping him with an Inter squad the he’s unlikely to play in though, the Suning group have come up with the crafty idea of shifting him to Jiangsu according to Football Italia. The only problem with this clever plan B being that Barbosa isn’t thought to be keen himself and would rather go home to Brazil. This is certainly one to keep an eye on, as the Suning group will not want to see Inter lose money on their initial purchase of the striker.
Richarlison in demand
Finally, another player who has been attracting interest from Chinese clubs is Watford’s tricky winger Richarlison. As we all know, the CSL loves a Brazilian, and given the 20 year-old’s impressive start to life in the Premier League it’s no surprise to see Chinese interest as well as reports that several big Premier League sides are monitoring Richarlison.
Any deal for the player would be an expensive one though as Richarlison has only just joined Watford and signed a deal running until 2022. The winger has five league goals to his name already after signing for the Hornets from Fluminese for around £11 million.