Last Updated: 10/01/19 3:02pm
The January transfer window is in full swing across the globe and that can only mean one thing – the return of astronomical bids and rumours linking players with lucrative moves to the Chinese Super League.
The riches on offer in China in recent years, coupled with their unaligned deadline days with European leagues, has left clubs in fear of losing their star players without having the chance to replace them.
A change in player regulation in the Chinese Super League has seen the exodus lose pace in recent years, but with a number of high-profile players linked with clubs in China, the lure of a move perseveres.
When does the Chinese window close?
The window in China opened on January 1 but, unlike the winter window in England, it stays open through January before shutting on February 28.
Transfer Talk podcast: Download now!
The latest episode of the Transfer Talk podcast is available to download now!
Has China lost its lure?
A few years ago it seemed every player in Europe was linked with a move to China. Some footballers may as well have been camped at airports waiting for the next flight to the Far East, such was their willingness to make the switch.
The transfer fees and wages Chinese clubs were willing to pay proved too good for players and clubs to turn down, and the league saw a huge influx of players from Europe.
The likes of Alex Teixeira, Jackson Martinez, Gervinho, Paulinho, Demba Ba and Asamoah Gyan were the forerunners in the 2015/16 season. They were followed by the blockbuster signings of Oscar, Carlos Tevez and Hulk the following season, and European clubs were forced to sit up and take notice.
A rule change in 2017 that limited Chinese Super League clubs to playing three non-Chinese players per game has seen arrivals from Europe decrease, but a few eye-catching transfers still arise.
Who has been linked with a move to China?
For the second season running, Tottenham midfielder Mousa Dembele has been linked with Beijing Sinobo Guoan – but this time the Chinese club look to have got their man, with Spurs understood to have agreed a deal to sell the Belgium international.
West Ham, meanwhile, have rejected a £35m bid from an unnamed Chinese club for striker Marko Arnautovic, according to Sky sources. It is understood the Hammers are under no pressure to sell but the wages on offer could prove too good to turn down for the Austria international.
Former West Ham playmaker Dimitri Payet has reportedly received an offer to triple his wages if he leaves Marseille for Dalian Yifang, while Ajax forward David Neres and Brentford midfielder Nico Yennaris have also been linked with Chinese clubs in January.
Who could be coming back from China?
With wages simply too good to turn down, players have defended moving to China, where the standard of football is lower, with the caveat that they will return to Europe within a few years.
Tevez famously downed tools after a season at Shanhai Shenhua, forcing through a return to Boca Juniors despite earning a reported £615,000-a-week in wages.
This window is no different, with a number of high-profile players vying for a return to Europe after cashing into the riches on offer in China.
Belgium international Yannick Carrasco shocked everyone when he joined Dalian Yifang in 2018 but, less than 12 months on, there is talk the former Atletico Madrid forward could be on his way back to Europe.
The 25-year-old has reportedly been offered to Arsenal for £25m, a move which could potentially free up space for the arrival of Payet at Dalian Yifang.
Former Villarreal striker Cedric Bakambu has taken the Chinese Super League by storm since his arrival in 2018, scoring 23 goals in 28 appearances for Beijing Guoan, but the DR Congo international has been linked with Tottenham, potentially trading places with Dembele.
And then there is former Watford striker Odion Ighalo, who has told Sky Sports News he wants to seal his return to the Premier League this month after spending two years at Changchun Yatai.