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Chinese Football Association tightens limits on foreign players' transfer fees

Can Cedric Bakambu live up to his £40 million price tag?
Cedric Bakambu was thought to be leaving Villarreal for Beijing Guoan.

Beijing Guoan's hopes of fielding Congolese striker Cedric Bakambu in the new Chinese Super League season have taken a significant blow after football authorities announced moves to curb attempts to avoid paying huge levies on large transfer fees for foreign players.

La Liga side Villarreal announced last month that Bakambu was leaving after receiving the €40 million required to buy the 26-year-old out of his contract, with Beijing Guoan the striker's anticipated destination.

But, with clubs limited to spending 45m RMB -- just under €6m -- per foreign signing, the Chinese Football Association has moved to end clubs' efforts to avoid the 100 percent levy imposed last summer on transfer fees.

Players face suspension while clubs could be subjected to a 15-point deduction if they break the regulations, the CFA said in a statement issued on Monday evening.

"Anyone can report any suspicious attempts to avoid the transfer adjustment fee," the statement read. "Once the CFA receives these reports and finds them to be true, clubs will be deducted 15 points in the 2018 season."

Deals that include players or third parties paying a buy-out clause -- as was the case with Bakambu -- will still be considered as a transfer fee by the Chinese authorities, the statement stressed.

Players who have been signed on loan deals will also be subject to the levy should the sum exceed the threshold. The CFA also announced that they retain the right to investigate deals concluded in last summer's window.

Shanghai SIPG's Oscar was one of several players paid significant money to move to China.

That could see an investigation launched into Tianjin Quanjian's capture of French striker Anthony Modeste on a two-year loan deal from Cologne last summer.

Tianjin are believed to have paid almost €36m for the 29-year-old, who scored twice in his side's Asian Champions League playoff win over Philippines Football League club Ceres-Negros at the end of January.

The transfer limit was imposed last summer after the previous window had seen spending spiral considerably, with Shanghai SIPG spending €60m to sign Oscar from Chelsea after having spent €55m to purchase Hulk from Zenit St. Petersburg six months earlier.

Those signings, and others, created speculation that the game's leading stars were destined to move to China for huge transfer fees and on astronomical salaries.

As a result, Chinese authorities have sought to cool the market as the country continues attempts to grow that game at all levels in an attempt to establish China among the global elite.

Michael Church has written about Asian football for more than 20 years and mainly covers the Chinese game for ESPN FC. Twitter: @michaelrgchurch

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