The growing legion of lucratively rewarded foreign stars in the Chinese Super League could be checked by new rules introduced by the Chinese Football Association.
According to multiple reports, CSL rules will be changed so that teams can only field three overseas players at any given time, with five allowed in the matchday 18.
Last season, CSL clubs operated under the “four plus one” quota, where five foreign players were allowed in the squad with one of those from another Asian Football Confederation. Under the new regulations, the Asian player quota is set to be abolished.
Additionally, teams must now select a minimum of two under-23 players in their matchday squads, with one in the starting XI.
The likes of Carlos Tevez, Oscar and Axel Witsel have led an impressive haul of top-level players moving to China over recent weeks, while reports of Chelsea striker Diego Costa having a fallout with head coach Antonio Conte came amid speculation over the Premier League leaders’ top scorer being the subject of CSL interest.
A change in the rules six weeks before the start of the news season could mark a change in approach and Shanghai SIPG technical director Mads Davidsen tweeted his surprise at the news.
Shanghai currently have Brazilian trio Oscar, Elkeson and Hulk on their roster, along with Ivorian forward Jean Evrard Kouassi and Uzbek midfielder Odil Ahmedov, and Davidsen wrote: ” Incredible timing, but interesting new rules for the Chinese SL.
“Now only three foreigners can start the game and one U23-player must start too.”
Replying to a tweet asking whether he thought the changes were positive, Davidsen stated young Chinese players would benefit and an exodus of foreign talent would be averted.
“Five [overseas players] are allowed in the squad, so no one has to leave,” he said.
“The U23-rule is very positive, plus one on the bench giving them all a chance.”
Davidsen also tweeted a picture of an SIPG youth side, claiming their “market value just increased” and that they are “even more the future with the new rules”.
Our young side from last year. Your market value just increased, boys! You are even more the future -with the new rules… pic.twitter.com/nZQr7QMNIA
— Mads Davidsen (@MadsRDavidsen) January 15, 2017