Tianjin Quanjian owner Shu Yuhui has confirmed that the club lodged bids for several high profile players

The Chinese Super League club recently made bids for Diego Costa, Karim Benzema, Edinson Cavani and Radamel Falcao but were unable to sign them due to a combination of the league’s new rules and the clubs’ unwillingness to sell their players in January.

The Chinese Football Association has ruled that a team can only have three foreign players on the pitch at one time, with a maximum of five foreign players allowed in the 18-man matchday squad. The new ruling came amidst fears that there would be a lack of development opportunities for younger local players.

According to Yuhui, Tianjin had been in talks with all four of those strikers before the new ruling came into play throwing their plans for the team into disarray. They had even agreed terms with a couple of players although their clubs were unwilling to let them leave in January.

“Our club had a massive investment plan for the new season but it was tightened up by the new rules,” Yuhui told Tianjin Sports Channel, according to Goal.

“We need an out-and-out striker so we made a bid for Benzema. We also made an attempt for Falcao. As a matter of fact, the club had even prepared the contracts for Falcao and [Benfica striker] Raul Jimenez.”

“We had already reached agreement with them on wages and bonus. The pair were expected to sign the contracts, but the new rules forced us to give up on them. PSG told us Cavani would only be allowed to leave in June, even though the player himself was willing to join us. The same can be said for Costa because Chelsea would only let him leave in June. However, the new season of CSL will almost reach the halfway stage in June, we can’t wait so long.”

Chelsea's Brazilian-born Spanish striker Diego Costa reacts during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Chelsea at The Emirates stadium in London, on September 24, 2016. (Photo by Ian Kington/AFP/Getty Images)
Throwing a tantrum because he wants to leave? (Photo by Ian Kington/AFP/Getty Images)

This continues the shocking ambition with which Chinese Super League teams are attempting to sign the world’s best players, as they look to upset the balance of power in club football around the world.

Yuhui’s claim that Diego Costa was willing to join the Chinese side and that Chelsea would not let him seems to confirm reports that the Chelsea striker rejected the Blues’ offer of a new contract before having a heated argument with Antonio Conte, which saw him dropped from the squad for Chelsea’s 3-0 victory over Leicester City.

Conte later insisted that the striker had been dropped because of a back injury, but it seems there is clearly more to the story than that. It also appears that a lot of players are now very willing to join the Chinese Super League, as Yuhui’s claims that Cavani, Falcao and Jimenez had all agreed terms with the club.

Tianjin already managed to land Axel Witsel, rather surprisingly given that he was reportedly a target for Juventus, Chelsea and Barcelona. Chelsea midfielder Oscar also completed a stunning £60m move to Shanghai SIPG in December, in another show of financial strength by a Chinese side.

It appears that those moves were just the start as far as the Chinese teams are concerned, and there will definitely be more bids for Europe’s best players in the near future, despite the new rules that have handcuffed clubs from signing too many foreigners.

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