The last few standing...

5 footballers we can’t believe are somehow still playing in the Chinese Super League

Many thought that all the ballers left China following the demise of the Chinese Super Lig, but what if we told you that there is still life left in the forgotten division?

In a bid for China to become a global power in football – and possibly a wider context – Xi Jinping and his government pumped money into the game and encouraged businesses to do the same, resulting in academies being thrown up and huge sums of money being thrown at some of football’s biggest stars, to lure them away from Europe.

And for a short while, it worked. Alex Teixeira infamously opted for a move to Jiangsu Suning over Liverpool in 2016, one of many examples of players leaving Europe for an outrageous paycheque.

It didn’t get China any closer to winning a World Cup as they’d hoped, though, nor did the league blossom, and virtually all spending has been scaled back completely since 2020.

A few players survived the exodus, however, and are still in China today. Here are X of them.


At this point, we’re sure that Oscar is in China purely for the love of the game and the country. Making a shock, £60million move from Chelsea to Shanghai Port in 2017, he’s now more than made his money, but remains in East Asia seven years on, at the age of 32.

The Brazilian was considered among best attacking midfielders in the world, but opted to spend his peak years away from the top of the game and is probably a lot richer for it, in fairness.

In 216 appearances for Shanghai Port, Oscar has 63 goals and 114 assists, That’s outrageous. Chinese football legend.

Tyias Browning

Browning was born in Liverpool and joined Everton at the age of 10, before eventually going on to play for the first team and on loan throughout the EFL in the late 2010s.

While he hadn’t quite kicked on as expected as an England under-21, he still looked more than capable of a solid Championship career.

However, in February 2019, he left English football behind and made a move to Guangzhou Evergrande, but faced difficulties due to the changing foreign player rules.

That wasn’t an issue for the defender, though, who is now a naturalised Chinese citizen and has played 26 times for China’s national team. Browning’s maternal grandfather was Cantonese and emigrated from China to England.

A wild career arc for the 29-year-old, who is now at Shanghai Port as a two-time Chinese Super League winner.

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Frank Acheampong

Ghanaian forward Acheampong is best known for his four-year association with Anderlecht, featuring in the Champions League for the Belgian club in the height of his spell.

Capped 23 times for his national team, he left European football behind in 2017 to sign for Tianjin TEDA, initially on loan before a permanent deal was agreed.

He’s remained in China ever since, moving to Shenzen in 2021 but signing for Henan at the beginning of 2024 after Shenzen dissolved following their relegation from the top flight.

Tim Chow

Wigan-born Chinese Tapei international Chow started his career with childhood club Wigan Athletic, debuting in 2012 and staying with the club until 2016, when he moved north to sign for Scottish Premiership side Ross County.

By 2018 he was in Serbia and by 2019 he’d moved again, this time to China, where he has finally settled for the first time since Wigan.

Thanks to his grandfather being from Zhejang and living in Taiwan before moving to England after the Second World War, Chow was able to obtain a Republic of China passport in 2017.

He’s been capped once for Chinese Tapei and doesn’t seem desperate to return to Greater Manchester anytime soon. His loss; more Wigan kebabs for us.

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Nico Yennaris

Yennaris captained Arsenal’s under-18s to the Premier Academy League title back in 2009-10, but left in 2014 after making just four senior appearances for the club.

He’d go on to establish himself at Brentford from 2014 to 2019, but left The Bees in January 2019 – shortly before their rise to the Premier League – to sign for Chinese Super League side Beijing Guoan, where he remains today.

Yennaris actually missed two years of action due to an ongoing injury which required surgery and extensive rehabilitation back at Arsenal, but he’s now back fit and firing for the side, while also being capped 12 times for China after switching international allegiance thanks to his mother.