Chinese Super League, 2017 – The local lads that could make the difference

There has been plenty said and written about the world-class foreign talent now in the Chinese Super League (CSL), which starts on Friday, but FourFourTwo hasn’t forgotten the local lads. Here are 10 Chinese players that could make a difference in this year’s title race.

Zhang Chengdong (Hebei)

It is not just the famous foreign stars moving to China for big money, after Zhang joined Hebei from Beijing Guoan for a fee believed to be around €20 million (S$29.7m).

The versatile defender had already played in Portugal and Germany before a short spell in La Liga with Rayo Vallecano.

A key member of Marcello Lippi's national team, the 28-year-old returned to Beijing in 2016 before being snapped up by Manuel Pellegrini for the coming season.

Zhang Chengdong

Yang Shanping (Tianjin Quanjian)

Fabio Cannavaro knows a good centre-back when he sees one and the Italian 2006 World Cup-winning captain did not waste much time making a move for Yang after leading Tianjin to promotion.

The 29-year-old had been a long-standing servant at Liaoning but didn't think twice before joining the ambitious and big-spending Tianjin.

A no-nonsense centre-back, Yang was included by recent national team coach appointee Lippi in his first two teams earlier this year and looks set to play a more regular part in the future. This is a big season for player and club.

Yang Shanping. Photo: Best China News

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