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.

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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