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The Chinese Super League season gets underway in six weeks, and its teams have been dealt a blow by a surprise rule change. The Chinese FA confirmed over the weekend that teams will only be allowed to field three foreign players at a time. Teams used to be limited to four foreigners of any nationality, plus one extra slot for an Asian player from outside China.
In a statement, the Chinese FA said that they changed the rules "to benefit the overall development of Chinese football and Chinese local players, to enhance the quality of the national team and to keep the professional league on a healthy, stable, and consistent track." They also hit out against the big spending that Chinese clubs have been engaging in. "The CFA will continue to release new rules and policies to regulate the irrational expense of the Chinese Super League and the China League, including the overpaying of domestic and international transfer fees and salaries in order to professionalize clubs' operations and management," they said.
While teams are still allowed to carry five foreign players, many teams are presented with a problem now that only three of them can play at a time. Every CSL team already has three foreign players under contract, while two of them have four and 12 have five. Some of those teams with five foreigners might look to sell one of those players or release them from their contract to avoid superfluous spending on a player they can't even field most weeks.
This move should end most of the speculation about top European players moving to China during this transfer window. While CSL clubs might resume their pursuits of big names over the next two transfer windows, after they've had some time to get rid of foreign players currently on the books, it's unlikely that the likes of Chelsea's Diego Costa will be making the move this January.
Goal of the day
Stevan Jovetic's winner for Sevilla vs. Real Madrid. (r/soccer)
In the news
The British government is threatening legal action against Premier League clubs who dodge their obligations to provide accommodations for disabled fans. (Telegraph)
Bayern Munich has snatched up Hoffenheim stars Niklas Sule and Sebastian Rudy for next season. (Bild)
After a couple of long seasons, Barcelona is finally finding spots to rest its top forwards. (Marca)
D.C. United has signed college soccer's top player Ian Harkes as a homegrown player. Yes, he's USMNT legend John Harkes' son. (Black and Red United)
Jürgen Klopp wasn't able to play Joel Matip this weekend due to his dispute with Cameroon and would like FIFA to sort it out one way or the other this week. (Guardian)
MLS will actually announce the amounts of Allocation Money involved in trades now. (MLS)
That came into play for the first time during the SuperDraft, when the Timbers and NYCFC traded up to grab two USMNT Under-20 forwards.
Simone Zaza has joined Valencia. (AS)
You should be reading
Ali El Damaty on the young talents you should watch out for at the Africa Cup of Nations. (Just Football)
Flavio Fusi on the stats that tell the stories of Serie A so far this season. (Stats Bomb)
Jonas Giaevara on Martin Odegaard's attempt to get his career on track at Heerenveen. (These Football Times)
What happened this weekend
Paul Pogba inexplicably had one of the worst games of his career against Liverpool.
Manchester City was thoroughly embarrassed by Everton's teenagers.
Here's a recap of Saturday's Premier League action, including Harry Kane's superb hat trick.
Real Madrid's 40-game unbeaten run was ended by an excellent Sevilla side. (Managing Madrid)
Barcelona made up ground in La Liga by smashing Las Palmas. (Barca Blaugranes)
Fiorentina spiced up Serie A a bit by defeating Juventus. (Viola Nation)
Toluca and Pumas had big wins in Liga MX. (FMF State of Mind)
What to watch on Monday
Serie A: Torino vs. Milan (2:45 p.m.) — Two very watchable teams, both competing for Europe.