After a moderate transfer window, the Chinese Super League kicked off the new season on Friday, with seven-time winners Guangzhou Evergrande of Fabio Cannavaro looking favoured to dominate the campaign once more.
Although Guangzhou Evergrande have no African player, a handful of professionals from the continent will be participating in the league this season as well.
There are currently 64 registered foreign players in the Chinese Super League, which include 12 Africans, who constitute 18.75% of the foreign legion.
Clubs are not allowed to enroll more than four foreign players at the beginning of the season.
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Despite playing in China, most of these African players still earn call-up to their respective national teams.
The 12 Africans in the Chinese Super League
Beijing Renhe : Benjamin Moukandjo (Cameroon)
The Cameroon international and former Monaco forward initially joined Chinese side Jiangsu Suning on a two-year deal in July 2017 before moving to Beijing Renhe on loan in February 2018.
Beijing Sinobo Guoan : Cédric Bakambu (RDC)
The former Villarreal forward is currently the most expensive African player following his recent £65m move to Beijing Sinobo Guoan, which eclipsed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s $50m deal to Arsenal.
Changchun Yatai : Odion Ighalo (Nigeria)
After three seasons at Watford in the English Premier League, the 28-year-old Nigeria international decided to move to the Far East, settling at Changchun Yatai for a reported £20 million fee.
Dalian Yifang : Nyasha Mushekwi (Zimbabwe)
The former basketball player has been a Zimbabwe international since 2009. He spent five years at South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns but now plies his trade at Dalian Yifang in China.
Guizhou Hengfeng : Bubacarr Trawally (Gambia)
After some contract issues with his former club Yanbian Funde FC, also in China, the Gambia international is now on loan at Dalian Yifang, scoring his first goal for the club on March 4, 2018.
Hebei China Fortune: Gervinho (Ivory Coast)
When the former Arsenal and Roma winger announced his decision to move to China in 2016, many of his fans felt he did not exploit his talent to the full in Europe and some even called him a failure. However, he appears to be happy at Hebei China Fortune, for which he has scored four goals.
Henan Jianye : Christian Bassogog (Cameroon)
Could you have imagined that the Best Player of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations coming from the Chinese Super League? Bassogog contributed immensely to Cameroon’s victory in that tournament, and insists that he feels very comfortable at his Chinese side Henan Jianye.
Jiangsu Suning : Richmond Boakye (Ghana)
On the verge of sealing a move to Bordeaux in France, Jiangsu Suning hijacked the deal and snaffled the 25-year-old striker who scored 15 goals for Red Star Belgrade of Serbia last season.
Shandong Luneng Taishan : Papiss Cissé (Senegal)
The former Newcastle United man has found the back of the net 16 times for his Chinese side since joining in 2016, which cost him his place in Senegal team.
Shanghai Greenland Shenhua : Obafemi Martins (Nigeria)
Shanghai Shenhua is Martins’ 9th club across three continents since the year 2000. He has scored 16 goals for the club since his arrival in 2016.
Tianjin Teda : Frank Acheampong (Ghana) and John Obi Mikel (Nigeria)
Mikel, who spent much of his playing time at Chelsea (2006-2017), left Stamford Bridge for Tianjin Teda in January 2017 on a free transfer. Few people expected Frank Acheampong’s move to China, due to his young age of 23 then and a promising career in Europe while playing for Anderlecht. He joined Tianjin Teda initially on loan in 2017 before making it permanent a year later.