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Chinese Super League's Badly-Timed New Rules Leave AVB Absolutely Shafted In Shanghai

Chinese Super League's Badly-Timed New Rules Leave AVB Absolutely Shafted In Shanghai
By Gavan Casey

You can understand how Shanghai SIPG manager Andre Villas-Boas would be left furious by the new Chinese Super League rules.

Fresh off smashing the Asian transfer record with the signing of his former Chelsea charge Oscar for a reported €60m, the 39-year-old was informed on Sunday that new CSL regulations demand that teams would be allowed to field a maximum of three foreign players in their matchday squads - down from five last season (four of any nationality and one non-Chinese Asian).

Villas-Boas only joined Shanghai in November of 2016, having departed Zenit the previous May when the Russian Premier League introduced similar rules.

Three months later, his plans for his new squad have been laid waste by the bizarre timing of the CSL's new stance, announced in the middle of the January transfer window and with just weeks remaining until the start of the new season.

Foreign nationals currently on the books at AVB's Shanghai include Oscar, Hulk (signed for €55.8m), Elkeson, Jean Evrard Kouassi, Kim Ju-young, Kim Young-gwon and Uzbek star Odil Ahmedov.

As James Porteous points out in the South China Morning Post, Ahmedov was signed for €7 million before the new rule was announced, and would have been eligible to play in the ‘plus-one’ Asian foreign player slot. This will no longer be the case.

Villas-Boas, meanwhile, expressed his fury to the Chinese media in Qatar, where Shanghai are undergoing pre-season training:

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This decision should have been made after the season, or with a certain buffer, such a huge change shouldn’t be announced about a month before the new season.

Most of the clubs’ team building plans have been in accordance with the previous rules. That’s when everyone gets caught off guard.

Supplementary to the 'three foreign players' rule, all CSL sides must now field two Chinese under-23 players in every game, including one in their starting eleven.

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Villas-Boas, like many others, predicts this will create a mini-bubble in the market for young, local talent in China.

I know that the Chinese Football Association introduced this new deal to vigorously improve the level of local young players, but it will also lead to high prices for young players, with many purchasers competing for young players, their market value will be a serious bubble.

It will be very costly to train young players and it will not be beneficial for young players to play under too much pressure.

Of course we must accept the reality of this situation, after all the new rules have been set, but I still don’t think such a short time from the start of the season is a particularly appropriate time to introduce such a new deal.

[South China Morning Post]

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