In recent years, the Chinese Super League clubs have made great signings that have led them to compete with the European football clubs in terms of salaries. In some cases, European teams could not compete with their Chinese counter-parties who were willing to offer crazy salaries. But now things seem to be heading to a very different scenario.
The Chinese Super League has been a project where the Chinese government has invested a lot of money and efforts in order to promote football in the Asian giant. Part of the plan was achieved offering very high salaries to some well-known footballers. This was a forced move with the intent compensate for the low level of the Chinese league that, otherwise, it would not be attractive enough to big players.
For example, in 2016, Shanghai Greenland Shenhua of the Chinese Super League signed Argentinian forward Carlos Tevez from Boca Juniors, with a salary of €36 million per year, making him the highest paid football player in the world at the time, surpassing Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo, to name a few. Something surreal in any other context. In 2017, Brazilian midfielder Oscar was signed by Shanghai SIPG of the Chinese Super League from Chelsea FC in exchange of €60 million and €500.000 of weekly wages, which amounts to roughly €25 million a year. Hence, the then manager of the London team, Antonio Conte, described the Chinese Super League as a threat to European football, given that in the case of Oscar, he was a young player, with a lot of projection and important for Chelsea.
However, this sort of Chinese Super League bubble seems to have come to an end as the Chinese Football Association (CFA) announced that foreign players will not be able to earn more than €3 million a year and clubs will not be able to spend more than €75 million in transfers as a cap. The association will allow a period of 3 years for the Chinese Super League clubs to adapt their current contracts to these limitations.
The reason for this salary limit is because the CFA considers that the Korean K-League or the Japanese J-League have much lower expenses than the Chinese Super League and their national teams are superior to the Chinese national team. In this regard, it indirectly holds foreign football players responsible for hindering the growth of local talents and that is why those huge investments are apparently reaching an end. In addition, Chinese football fans are way much more interested in watching the European competitions regardless of who the Chinese teams acquire. As such, the Chinese Government has changed strategy building an incredible amount of football facilities all around the country with the intent of growing a new generation of footballers in line with the Korean, Vietnamese and Japanese plans.