China's graft-addled Super League sank so low it was pulled from national TV, but the signing of French star Nicolas Anelka highlights a gold rush that could finally drag Chinese soccer out of the mire.
The much-travelled marksman nicknamed "Le Sulk" is an unlikely poster-boy, but China's most high-profile recruit symbolises a new dawn for the country.
Anelka's two-year deal with Shanghai Shenhua comes just a year after the Super League's nadir when a major match-fixing crackdown left senior officials facing jail.
The corruption problems were so acute that when last season kicked off, state broadcaster CCTV refused to broadcast the matches and the league was without a major sponsor.
And yet in the space of just a few months, the Super League has cast off its woes with a series of big-money signings.
"The potential of Chinese football is, and always has been, massive. This is why we are seeing names like Anelka come to China," said Cameron Wilson, China-based founder of the wildeastfootball.net website.