Over the last few years, we’ve seen an increase in the number of European players joining the Chinese Super League
Newcastle United have seen a fair amount of former players make the switch with Obafemi Martins, Demba Ba, Papiss Cisse and Cheick Tiote the standout names.
The latest name? Dwight Gayle. He’s being tipped to make the switch once his loan with West Bromwich Albion expires at the end of the season.
And the potential move got us thinking. How have previous United stars fared in China?
Martins is 33 years old now and has been in China for two years after leaving the USA and Seattle Sounders behind.
The Nigerian left St James’s Park following the 2009 relegation. Spells at Wolfsburg, Levante, Seattle Sounders and even a brief spell at Birmingham City before Martins moved to Shanghai Shenhua.
Martins has never really looked back whilst in China.
He’s fired 32 goals in 59 appearances so far, all of which contributed to Shenhua winning the Chinese Cup in 2017 – their first honour since 2001.
Ba has enjoyed China so much he’s moved there twice and now partners Martins at Shanghai Shenhua.
Within two years of his Magpies departure in 2013, Ba first signed for Shenhua in 2015 but it met by arguably the worst year of the Senegalese career.
In his second campaign with the club, Ba suffered a horrendous leg break in a league match against rivals Shanghai SIPG, an injury which prompted then Shenhua boss into doubting if Ba would ever return to football.
However, Ba did return, nine months later, and went back to Beskitas on loan before rebuilding earning a permanent move in Turkey with Goztepe.
And after netting seven goals in 13 outings, Shenhua decided to resign Ba this summer, who marked his Chinese return with a goal on his second debut against Tianjin TEDA.
Cisse's four-year spell at St James's Park ended following the club's relegation in 2016 with Shandong Luneng as his chosen destination.
The Senegalese forward had taken to life in China well and rediscovered his goalscoring touch, hitting 18 goals in 34 games.
However, similar to his career on Tyneside, Cisse’s Shandong career petered out with him making just one appearance in 2018.
Cisse had reportedly been training with Bolton Wanderers in the summer as he owns a house in Wilmslow. However, whilst he impressed the Championship club, they were unable to match the high wages he was on in China.
Instead, Cisse signed for Turkish side Alanyaspor in the summer.
Tiote stayed at St James's Park until February 2017 before Bejing Enterprise handed him a pathway out of Tyneside after expressing a desire to leave.
Tragically after making just 11 appearances, Tiote passed away after collapsing during training in June last year.