Didier Drogba is arguably the most significant, moving to Shanghai Shenhua to join former Chelsea team mate Nicolas Anelka under the tutelage of former Argentina coach Sergio Batista.
Batista’s team take on Guanghzou Evergrande during the Chinese season, a team managed by former World Cup winning coach Marcello Lippi. They have among their rank, the Argentine born Paraguay striker Lucas Barrios, signed from Borussia Dortmund this summer. He is a player not yet at the peak of his career, yet attracted to China. Quite like Dario Conca, another Argentine who left Internacional in Brazil after being the best player in the Brazilian league in 2011 to sign for Guangzhou.
Yakubu has also come to China, as has Seydou Keita. But the Chinese are not the only ones. Another star in the peak of his career, Pablo Guerrero, has signed for Corinthians and returned from Europe to South America. Botafogo brought Clarence Seedorf, a hugely significant signing of a European player to a big team in Brazil. He now becomes the highest paid foreigner in Brazilian football. That is a significant marker of the growth of the Brazilian league, steadily making its way in the world of football and raising its profile.
Meanwhile, Internacional got Diego Forlan, from, err, Internazionale. Diego could be about to return to Brazil from Wolfsburg too.
Russia too, is a key market now in football, with Slaven Bilic becoming Lokomotiv Moscow manager this summer and signing Vedran Corluka. Another big name European, Unai Emery, took over at Spartak Moscow, whilst Guus Hiddink is at Anzhi Makhachkala. Luciano Spalletti was already at Zenit, bankrolled by Gazprom. Big names are flocking to Russia more than before thanks to the huge sums of money swirling around the league.
Other big names leaving Europe this summer included Raul, who is now plying his trade for Al Sadd in Qatar. Rivaldo has even moved to Angola to play out the rest of his career, though that was the year before. Alessandro Nesta is in Canada with Montreal Impact, and it all adds up to quite a range of players plying their trade across the world.
They are mostly following the new money flowing into the game and changing its landscape. Suddenly China has a place on the football map, a place where the sport has been rather insignificant until recently. Brazil and Russia are marking their rise in the football world, whilst other cash rich teams across the world are managing to lure stars from Europe’s biggest teams. It is a sign of what is to come for football in a world where billionaires bankroll teams across the globe. New money is here to stay – unlike some of Europe’s top stars.