Some of these stars have played at the very top of club football in the world.

The Chinese Super League has kickstarted its 2021 season on April 20 and it’s off to a flyer. The previous season’s runners-up Guangzhou Evergrande were held to a 2-2 draw to city rivals Guangzhou R&F in the opening matchday, while Shandong Luneng won away to Chongqing Lifan.

Home to a number of top players in Asia and abroad, the Chinese Super League saw a number of high-profile footballers take part in its opening matchday, with more waiting for their side’s campaign opener. Here are some of the overseas players in the Chinese Super League, who are known for their abilities throughout the world.

5. Cedric Bakambu (Beijing Guoan)

Bakambu won the Golden Boot last year after scoring 14 goals

There aren’t many African players in the Chinese Super League, but Cedric Bakambu is certainly the best right now. The former Villarreal striker finished as the league’s highest scorer last year with 14 goals, helping Beijing finish at the second spot in the league and third in the championship.

Since arriving in 2018 for £65 million, a record sum for an African player, he has spearheaded one of the league’s most potent attacking line up and dazzling the club faithful with his blistering pace and flashy tricks.

4. Paulinho (Guangzhou Evergrande)

Paulinho’s second stint in China has been highly productive

Paulinho’s second term with Guangzhou Evergrande has certainly been more impressive than his first. That’s because the Brazilian has been operating from a more advanced position, even becoming the side’s primary scorer since rejoining in 2018.

Unlike his playmaking role at Tottenham Hotspur and Barcelona, the 32-year old is now a constant goal threat and has come into his own. He played an instrumental role in guiding Guangzhou to last year’s finals and will be hoping to lift the Chinese Super League title for the fourth time this year. 

3. Kim Min-jae (Beijing Guoan)

The only defender on this list, Kim Min-jae has earned a reputation for being an exceptionally gifted centre-back. The 24-year-old South Korean combines physical strength with excellent positional awareness to cope with the league’s attackers, but has a penchant for storming forward on the breaks too.

Joining from Korean side Hyundai Motors in 2019, he quickly established himself in the side’s first XI. He possesses an expansive passing range and can be dominant in the air with an uncanny heading ability. 

2. Oscar (Shanghai SIPG)

The former Chelsea midfielder has become one of best creators in the league

Oscar has been in the Chinese Super League for so long that it’s easy to forget he’s still active. Since switching London for Shanghai in 2017, the Brazilian winger has become a complete player. He scores goals, creates chances and lays passes with unerring accuracy.

The secret lies in Oscar playing a more central role compared to his Chelsea days. It has allowed him to showcase his vast and expansive skillset, particularly with creativity. In the previous campaign, he finished as the league’s highest assists maker for the third consecutive time.

Oscar’s impeccable vision and ingenuity will be crucial once again for the Red Eagles, who are aiming to clinch their second Chinese Super League title. 

1. Marko Arnautovic (Shanghai SIPG)

Aiding the Brazilian in Shanghai’s attacking vanguard is Marko Arnautovic, who has become an instant hit with the side after joining from West Ham in 2019. He struck nine times from 11 games in his first season, before following it up with another seven in last year’s shortened and delayed season. 

His incredible pace, power on the ball, and finishing ability have perfectly complimented Oscar’s creativity, turning Shanghai into a profoundly menacing outfit. 

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