Guangzhou Evergrande going for a full Chinese side by 2020

This week the subject of the nationalisation of players in China raised it's head again. As Mark Henderson wrote about Elkeson and Goulart being close to call ups for the national side. Is the idea of nationalising players and Guangzhou Evergrande looking to have a full Chinese side by 2020 a good or a bad thing?

Evergande to go full Chinese by 2020

This season Guangzhou Evergrande the side linked strongly with the national team decided to set their own rule of having just two foreign players in a matchday squad. The CSL rules state that you can name three foreign players in the squad.

The thinking behind this is that the side could then provide players for China as they push to become a major force in international football. As the club are linked strongly with the national team they are reportedly financing Lippi's contract for the next year.

Seen within this push to have a team full of Chinese stars is the concept of bringing players in and then nationalising them to play for China. Examples of this have been found already at the club as it looks like Ricardo Goulart who as just returned to Guangzhou Evergrande after just four months on loan at Brazilian side Palmeiras looks set for a call-up.

This is due to the player born in Brazil set to be giving Chinese citizenship through residency and in doing so will the 27-year-old will be able to play for the country. Meanwhile, English born Tyias Browning could be one of the major players in a new China defence once his citizenship comes through.

The aforementioned tactic of finding players with links to a country is not an unusual one at all. For example, Wales and Scotland have capped many players in recent years not born in their country. Then in Asia Australia capped Scottish born Martin Boyle.

It is a new tactic for China and it will be interesting to see how it works, especially as it looks for Evergrande in particular that they would like to play no players by 2020 who do not qualify to play for China.
Ricardo Goulart
If this works well for the country it could see the Guangzhou side dominate the domestic game too. This season has seen them not look as impressive as normal with the team five points of the lead after 11 matches.

The good side of a full China side

Having looked at how the idea works of having a team full of players eligible for China is this something that could work? In theory, you could argue for sure this is a very good idea with the positives being players working together for their club and country.

As with the players playing together and training with each other week in week out they will know each other's games completely. It could also be argued they would know actually how to play and they'd be no big transition for younger players being called up for their country.

In previous years for example when Germany had a strong side and won the World Cup, their key players played together at Bayern Munich. This was seen with seven players in their 2014 squad playing at the German club.

Guangzhou Evergrande then having a team full of internationals playing for China could help the side perform to a higher standard. That is of course if the club side continues to be successful in China and at the Asian Champions League.

The bad side

As with all things connected with football in China, there is, of course, a bad side to this idea and things to seriously consider. Let's first look at the example I used of Bayern Munich having many German internationals in their squad. 

First of the German league is very competitive and these players played at a higher standard than the CSL could maybe ever be. Also unlike with the idea with Evergrande, this side had many foreign players in it too with the players learning about different football cultures. 

It was seen with Austrian David Alaba and Brazilian Dante being key in defence for the side along with Frenchman Franck Ribéry in the midfield and the Croatian Mario Mandžukić up top. They, of course, had other players from outside of Germany while being managed by Pep Guardiola from Spain. 

I use this example to explain that if you want to build a successful national side you need your best players playing at the best level they can. You need them learning from football cultures from all around the world. 

While it is great to promote young talent in your home country and help build success around that you need to learn from footballing talents around the world. As England never would have got to a World Cup Semi-final without players experiencing playing with and against talent from around the world. 
Germany World Cup winner 2014

Will China ever learn? 

I think it is fair to say that China has a long way to go to get close to World Cup qualification and even further to compete at a World Cup. They are doing certain things right though for example with bringing talent from around the world who qualify for their country. 

They are also building a successful competitive league that is starting to be watched around the world. This will help build the profile of the game in the country and should bring more money to help develop young talent.

The next five to ten years will be key for the national side. I would though warn them very strongly against being as inward as having a side like Guangzhou Evergrande dominate their league with no talent from outside of the nation. In the long run, this will only damage their game and development will be limited. 

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