SAO PAULO (AP) It has taken just a few months for Chinese clubs to feast on Brazilian football champions Corinthians.
Chinese clubs have signed four players from the Sao Paulo-based team’s starting lineup that won the league title in November. The latest to go was defender Gil, who signed this week with Shandong Luneng.
Brazilian media reported that his transfer fee was $11 million, with a monthly salary of $350,000.
Corinthians club President Roberto de Andrade has lamented that Chinese “clubs don’t even know my name” as they’ve closed in on Brazilian talent.
Andrade fears the club could be a shadow of itself next season, and is also embarrassed that one of Brazil’s richest teams can’t compete with China’s economic power.
Midfielder Jadson, who departed for second-division Tianjin Quanjian, and midfielder Ralf, who signed with Chinese Super League team Beijing Guoan, left the club before Gil. Guoan has also signed midfielder Renato Augusto, who weeks earlier turned down an offer from German club Schalke 04.
Former Bayer Leverkusen player Renato Augusto will reportedly earn $500,000 a month at Guoan, four times his salary at Corinthians. He was chosen by fellow players as the top player in the 2015 Brazilian league and scored in Brazil’s 3-0 victory over Peru in a World Cup qualifier in November.
Two other Corinthians players are still entertaining offers: midfielder Elias, who has been a Brazil starter under coach Dunga, and striker Alexandre Pato, who has been linked with a move to English Premier League champion Chelsea.
Meanwhile, Renato Augusto and Gil could be jeopardizing their chances of playing for the national side. Dunga has said he’ll still be watching players in China. But he has also acknowledged that players from Asia arrive worn out and jet lagged for World Cup qualifiers in South America.
Corinthians coach Tite, who turned down an offer from an unnamed Chinese club, is unhappy. He has reminded his players that going to China means choosing money over improving on the pitch.
“China’s really messing with us,” he told reporters. “And maybe it isn’t over yet.”