Following the Chinese government's plans to turn the Asian country into one of the world's footballing super powers, clubs in the Chinese Super League began to increase their spending.
From 2015 onwards, the number of high-profile and big money signings made by Chinese clubs increased as star players were brought in from European clubs for large fees and on high wages.
With the large influx of foreign talent into the Chinese Super League in the last decade it is easy to forget which players have moved to clubs in China after leaving Europe.
So, here are eight players you completely forgot played in China after leaving European football.
Brazilian playmaker Oscar made headlines when he moved from Chelsea to Chinese side Shanghai Port in January 2017, while aged just 25.
He was one of the youngest players to make the switch to the Chinese Super League from Europe with the £54million transfer.
He later defended his decision by saying he would rather retire having earned as much as possible rather than with no money but with trophies.
He has gone on to become the captain of Shanghai Port and also won a league title with the club in his first full season.
After over a decade in the Premier League, Belgian midfielder Marouane Fellaini left Manchester United to join Shandong Taishan in February 2019.
Then aged 31, Fellaini had made 260 Premier League appearances over 11 years with Everton and then United.
He has continued to show his goalscoring prowess since moving to Asia and has an impressive record of 30 goals in 72 appearances for Shandong.
However, his international opportunities have taken a hit and he has not been included in a Belgium squad since moving to China.
One of the most recent transfers to China from Europe, former Aston Villa defender Jores Okore moved to Changchun Yatai in February of this year.
The Danish centre back made 47 appearances for Villa in three seasons in England and was part of the side relegated from the Premier League in 2016.
After leaving Villa that summer, he returned to his homeland, playing for Copenhagen and then Aalborg.
He has so far made 14 appearances for Changchun, who were only promoted to the Super League in 2020.
After a fine start to the 2017/18 season with Villarreal, Cedric Bakambu was attracting interest from a host of European clubs, including West Ham United.
However, the Congolese forward instead headed for China in January 2018 as he moved to Beijing Guoan for £36million.
He continued his stunning form at his new club, though, scoring 19 goals in 23 league matches in his debut season.
Overall, he has 58 goals and 21 assists in just 87 appearances for Beijing Guoan in his three and a half years with the club.
Another former Premier League midfielder now plying his trade in China is former Huddersfield Town and Brighton and Hove Albion man Aaron Mooy.
After just one season with Brighton, which started as a loan, Mooy moved to Shanghai Port for £4million in September 2020.
The Australian was just four matches short of 100 appearances in the Premier League when he made the switch.
He has so far racked up just 22 appearances for the club, scoring twice and providing three assists in the process.
One of the first high-profile players to move from Europe to China, Hulk joined Shanghai Port from Zenit St. Petersburg in the summer of 2016 for £50million.
Having previously attracted interest from European giants Chelsea and Real Madrid, the signing of Hulk was a statement of intent by the Chinese Super League.
The Brazilian wideman went on to make 145 appearances for Shanghai, scoring 76 goals, and won the league title in 2018.
He left the club in February this year to return to his homeland and sign for Atletico Mineiro on a free transfer.
Colombian striker Jackson Martinez was one of the most sought after forwards in European football in 2015 after three impressive seasons with Porto saw him score 92 goals in 136 appearances.
However, he struggled to recapture his form after moving to Atletico Madrid and after just seven months in Spain he moved to Guangzhou for £38million.
Two serious ankle injuries disrupted his time in China and he was twice loaned to Portuguese club Portimonense before joining them on a free in January 2020.
Martinez ultimately retired from professional football in December last year aged 34.
Another Brazilian former Chelsea midfielder closes out this list, with Ramires leaving the Blues for the now-defunct Jiangsu in January 2016.
Ramires had scored in the Champions League semi-finals for Chelsea in 2012 and moved to China for a £25million fee.
He would go on to spend three and a half years with Jiangsu before moving to Palmeiras in July 2019.
However, Ramires has found himself without a club for 11 months after leaving Palmeiras in November 2020.
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