, Beijing, February 6th: Four years have passed, what has naturalization left for Chinese football?

  Reporter Bian Liqun

"I am very proud to have made the choice to return to China."

  At the beginning of 2019, the 21-year-old Hou Yongyong returned to China as the first batch of naturalized players, using the Chinese Super League team Beijing Guoan as his foothold.

  Returning with him is Li Ke, who is also of Chinese descent.

At the beginning of 2019, Hou Yongyong joined Beijing Guoan.

Image source: Beijing Guoan Football Club.

  The handsome Hou Yongyong has received great attention and expectations from the outside world since the beginning.

Of course, it is not only due to the handsome image, but also a good growth history.

  At the age of 16, he made his debut in the Norwegian super giant Rosenborg team, was selected into the Norwegian national youth team many times, and was called the "Norwegian Three Heroes" along with Erdegaard and Age, and won the Norwegian Football Talent Award...

  He is obviously a rare young talent for Chinese football, which is still weak.

Hou Yongyong joined Beijing Guoan Poster.

Image source: Beijing Guoan Football Club.

  Four years later, Hou Yongyong left Beijing Guoan and returned to the Norwegian sub-league team Lanheim as a free agent.

  "Since I left last time, I have always missed the team's locker room and club culture. It feels great and fun to come back again." In the team's official announcement video, Hou Yongyong said with a familiar iconic smile.

The Norwegian sub-league team Lanheim announced the return of Hou Yongyong.

Screenshot of social media.

  Affected by factors such as injuries, Hou Yongyong's performance after returning to China was not as expected.

This kind of performance, let alone being selected for the national football team.

  The huge gap between expectations and reality does not only appear in Hou Yongyong, but also in Chinese football.

A screenshot of Lanheim's official announcement video.


  In addition to Beijing Guoan, another major naturalized player in Chinese football four years ago was the Guangzhou team.

The latter mainly helps to transform the excellent foreign players in the Chinese Super League in the past five years into "foreign players" for the national football team to compete in the world preliminaries.

  Elkeson turned into Exxon, Fernando became Fernando, Aloisio became Luo Guofu, Alan was still Alan, plus Jiang Guangtai, a naturalized player of Chinese descent... The scene was quite shocking.

  It is undeniable that the "Naturalized Legion" has brought a glimmer of hope and fantasy to Chinese football, after all, they are all real combat power.

Li Ke joined the Beijing Guoan poster.

Image source: Beijing Guoan Football Club.

  Li Ke, who returned to the Chinese Super League for the first time, became a big barrier for the Beijing Guoan team's midfield.

In the first 8 rounds of the 2019 season, Li Ke not only scored 2 goals, but also averaged 4.1 steals per game, ranking first in the Guoan team and second in the Chinese Super League.

Among all the midfielders in the Super League at that time, Li Ke ranked first with an average of 7.35 points per game.

  Not to mention players such as Exxon and Alan, they have already proven themselves in the AFC Champions League and the domestic arena. Before being introduced to the Chinese Super League with a lot of money, they were also rising stars in the European League.

Naturalized international player Exxon.

Photo by China News Agency reporter Luo Yunfei


  With the wave of naturalization and the ambition to hit the World Cup again, in the summer of 2019, Lippi, who "entered the palace for the second time", led the updated national football team to compete in the Qatar World Cup qualifiers.

  It is said to be a replacement, but in fact, a group of veterans in the 87 and 89 age groups are the main players, and most of the young players are the substitutes.

Exxon and Li Ke, two players who took the lead in completing their naturalization, made up for the National Football Team.

  0:0 Philippines, 1:2 Syria, the situation of qualifying for the top 40 of the national football team is in jeopardy. Lippi, who could not bring the national football team, resigned suddenly after the game.

Former national football coach Lippi.

Image source: Visual China.

  When Li Tie took over the national football team, the naturalized players Alan and Jiang Guangtai made further additions. The national football team advanced to the top 12 without any risk, and also welcomed naturalized players Luo Guofu and Fernando one after another.

  However, the use of naturalized players has caused a lot of controversy.

  It was not until the 4th game against Saudi Arabia in the top 12 stage, after Alan, Luo Guofu, and Exon came off the bench one after another in the second half, that the national football team had the first time that 4 naturalized players played together, and finally lost 2:3.

  Then the naturalized players got more playing time, but in the life-and-death match, the national football team drew 1:1 with Oman, basically losing hope of qualifying.

However, after an unexpected 1:1 draw with Australia, a faint hope was kept.

  This can also be regarded as a short highlight moment for these naturalized players to make substantial contributions to the national football team in the game.

Alan celebrates his goal.

Image source: Visual China

  Under the fermentation of Li Tie's off-field turmoil, Li Xiaopeng succeeded Li Tie as the coach of the national football team.

The national football team, whose combat effectiveness has just improved, has experienced some turmoil, accompanied by slim hopes of qualifying, and suffered a drastic decline in the last four top 12 matches.

  From Li Tie leading the team to the second half of the top 40, to Li Xiaopeng leading the last 4 games of the top 12.

The 4 naturalized players did not play the expected role.

  Only from the sparse appearance data can reflect——

  Exxon started 8 games, played 2 times as a substitute, and only contributed 1 goal.

Jiang Guangtai started 10 times.

  Alan only started 4 times, came off the bench 6 times and scored 3 goals.

Luo Guofu only started 3 times, played 2 times as a substitute, and scored 1 goal.

  Fernando continued to waive the game card on the grounds of injury and never played for the national football team.

Li Ke also missed the top 12 of the national football team due to injuries.

Although Goulart is naturalized, he is not eligible to play for the national football team.

  In general, at the critical stage of the top 12, the only naturalized players who really play the main role are Exxon and Jiang Guangtai.

Exxon (right) competed with his opponent in the top 12 of the World Preliminaries in Asia.

  Previously, it was reported that in 2019 alone, the Guangzhou team had paid transfer fees, wages, and relocation fees as high as 8.7% for six naturalized players, namely Goulart, Alan, Exon, Fernando, Luo Guofu, and Jiang Guangtai. billion.

  The huge cost of naturalization is not directly proportional to the low utilization rate and return rate.


  With the first batch of naturalized players Hou Yongyong leaving Beijing Guoan, the only naturalized players still playing in the Chinese Super League are Jiang Guangtai and Li Ke. However, considering some circumstances, it may only be a matter of time before Li Ke leaves.

  And Jiang Guangtai still stays in the Super League because of the support of one of the few stable teams like Shanghai Seaport.

  Fernando, Goulart, Alan, Exxon and other players returned to Brazil after losing their high salary guarantee.

There is even news that Goulart is applying to restore his Brazilian citizenship.

Data map: The national football team prepares for the world preliminaries.

Photo by Zhang Hengwei

  Looking back, the road to naturalization of Chinese football in the past four years has not caught up with any of the elements of "time, location, and harmony".

  The second half of the top 40 and top 12 matches of the World Preliminaries were affected by the epidemic. The national football team has been unable to play at home for a long time, coupled with the long-term closed training camp, objectively speaking, it has indeed had a great impact on the competitive state.

  In addition, the impact of the epidemic on domestic leagues and clubs is also considerable. Coupled with the rapid ebb of "Golden Dollar Football", a major factor supporting these naturalized national football teams has disappeared.

  In addition, most of the naturalized players have passed the golden period of their careers, and their state is not as good as before.

  Under the superposition of a series of factors, the effect of naturalized players is not as good as expected.

Jiang Guangtai (second from right) in the game.

Photo by Luo Yunfei

  After four years, the wave of naturalization of Chinese football has "originated and extinguished".

Accompanied by another collapse in the top 12 stage of the world preliminaries, this illusion was ruthlessly shattered.

  Destiny is also dictated by the law. If Chinese football wants to get out of the trough, it must lay a solid foundation.

The days of spending big money to bring in naturalized players will never return.

  On March 23, Beijing time, the national football team will play in an international A-level friendly match against New Zealand for the first time in nearly four years.

  In reincarnation, a new cycle of Chinese football is about to begin again.