5 ACL-winning summer signings
Kuala Lumpur: With Marko Arnautovic the latest big name to join the AFC Champions League after Monday's signing with quarter-finalists Shanghai SIPG, we take a look at five other big summer acquisitions who led their team to Continental glory.
The Austrian forward will be tasked helping fire the Chinese Super League side to their first AFC Champions League title and, if he can do so, he would join a list of players who have gone on to lift the coveted trophy.
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Santos to Kashima Antlers, August 2018
The most recent entry on our list, Brazilian attacker Serginho joined Japan's Kashima Antlers last summer from South American giants Santos and turned up the heat in the 2018 AFC Champions League knockout stage.
The then 23-year-old simply ignited Kashima's Continental campaign as he took to the Asian game with gusto. Strikes in both legs against Tianjin Quanjian in the quarter-finals were followed by another pair, one in each tie, against Suwon Samsung Bluewings in the semis.
Serginho saved his most important goal for last, though, with a clever outside of the boot finish across Persepolis 'keeper Alireza Beiranvand to give Kashima a vital 2-0 lead in the first leg of the 2018 AFC Champions League final.
It was a scoreline that would prove enough for the Japanese club to lift the title as Serginho finished with an impressive tally of five goals in six appearances.
Tottenham Hotspur to Guangzhou Evergrande, June 2015
Following a difficult two years at Tottenham Hotspur, Paulinho joined FIFA World Cup-winning coach and fellow Brazilian Luiz Felipe Scolari at Guangzhou Evergrande in the summer of 2015 in a move that would resurrect his career and quickly turn him into a club legend.
In his AFC Champions League debut two months later, the midfielder scored one of the most memorable goals in the competition’s history when he rocketed in a stunning free-kick from 40 yards in the first leg of the quarter-finals in a 3-1 win at Kashiwa Reysol.
Guangzhou went on to claim a 4-2 aggregate win before seeing off Gamba Osaka in the semi-finals. Two titles in three years were wrapped up with a 1-0 aggregate win over the United Arab Emirates’ Al Ahli in the final as Paulinho added to the Copa Libertadores he won with Corinthians in 2012.
Domestic success and a recall to the Brazil national team followed before Barcelona came calling in 2017. A league–cup double in Spain and a place in the Selecao’s 2018 FIFA World Cup squad proved a successful year, before the now 30-year-old returned to China seeking further success with Guangzhou.
Seongnam FC to Western Sydney Wanderers, July 2014
Tournament debutants in 2014, Western Sydney Wanderers advanced to the knockout rounds at the first time of asking and, after seeing off Japan’s Sanfrecce Hiroshima in the last 16, Brendan Hamill was one of several players acquired ahead of the quarter-finals.
The right-back had endured a tough time in the K League with Seongnam FC and Gangwon FC, but would go on to play a key role in helping Western Sydney become the first and, to date, only Australian team to lift the Continental title.
Hamill played in all four games as Western Sydney knocked out the defending champions Guangzhou Evergrande in the quarter-finals and the previous year’s finalists FC Seoul in the last four, with the A-League team keeping three clean sheets along the way.
Underdogs in the final against Continental heavyweights Al Hilal, Western Sydney claimed a narrow 1-0 win at home before a scoreless draw in Riyadh saw the Australians lift the coveted trophy. Five shutouts in six games were crucial to their success and the title remains Hamill’s career highlight.
Fenerbahce to Al Sadd, September 2011
In the summer of 2011, Senegal international Mamadou Niang arrived at Qatar's Al Sadd as a back-to-back champion. The Ligue 1 title with Marseille in 2010 had been followed by Turkey's Super Lig with Fenerbahce in 2011, but even better was yet to come.
Al Sadd had won their group and edged through the Round of 16. Although unbeaten, they were finding goals hard to come by and were in need of a frontman to fire them onwards. Niang's arrival proved just the tonic.
Vital goals against Sepahan in the quarter-finals and the match-winning brace against Suwon Samsung Bluewings helped Al Sadd become the first Qatari club side to reach a Continental final since Al Arabi at the 1994-1995 Asian Club Championship.
Although he did not score in the final itself against Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, in the penalty shootout that followed the 2-2 draw Niang netted first from the spot as Al Sadd triumphed 4-2 to be crowned champions. With three goals, Niang finished as Al Sadd's top scorer in the competition.
AS Monaco to Al Ittihad (loan), July 2005
Such was Mohamed Kallon's impact on the 2005 AFC Champions League, that the Sierra Leone international finished as the tournament's Top Scorer - despite only joining Saudi Arabia's Al Ittihad midway through the competition!
Kallon's arrival on loan at Al Ittihad in mid-2005 was quite the coup for the defending champions, after the striker had fallen out of favour with coach Didier Deschamps, and the 24-year-old lived up to his reputation as a prolific scorer.
Kallon scored in the 8-3 aggregate win over China PR's Shandong Luneng in the quarter-finals before netting three more in another comprehensive aggregate victory in the last four - this time a 7-0 win over Busan I'Park of Korea Republic.
Emirati club Al Ain proved a tougher test in the final, with Al Ittihad needing a late penalty from Kallon to secure a 1-1 draw in the first leg of the final. The striker then opened the scoring on two minutes in the reverse fixture before Al Ittihad eased to a 4-2 victory to retain their title – a feat that hasn’t been repeated since.
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