Chinese Whispers

Chinese Whispers

By Christopher Atkins (follow Chris on twitter @china_football)

It’s been another busy week of rumours and speculation in China, with Champions Guangzhou Evergrande at the forefront of a lot of it. Christopher Atkins has kept abreast of all the latest news and gives us a rundown of what has made news in China.

Newly-promoted Wuhan continue to spend

Chinese Super League beware, Wuhan Zall are coming. In the past two seasons we have seen the likes of Guangzhou Evergrande, Dalian Aerbin and Guangzhou R&F all achieve top-half finishes in their first season after promotion and Wuhan are certainly spending as if they mean business.

Last week’s column brought news of the signing of Zhu Ting from the newly merged Dalian side, with Zhu reportedly signing on the condition that he will revert to his original centre-forward position. He has since been joined by China Under-22 international right-back Liu Shangkun on a free transfer from Tianjin Songjiang.

On Wednesday, the club’s recruitment drive continued apace with the signing of former-Wigan midfielder Cho Won-Hee from Guangzhou Evergrande. The Korea international has signed a two-year deal in Hubei and is the club’s first confirmed foreign player for the 2013 campaign.


Evergrande close on €6 million Brazilian as Conca saga grows

Is Dario Conca on his way out of Guangzhou?

Botafogo attacking-midfielder Elkeson is reportedly the latest Brazilian on his way to the Chinese Super League, with final details of a move reportedly agreed in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday. Pacy, technically adept and a fine finisher, the 23-year-old former Vitoria man is also capable of playing in a centre-forward role. The deal is expected to total somewhere in the region of €6 million.

The move is reportedly at the request of coach Marcello Lippi, with Argentine playmaker Dario Conca set to leave the club having packed up his belongings at the end of the season and walked out on the club.

Chairman Liu Yongzhuo was highly critical of Conca’s behaviour in an interview on Thursday and insisted that if their asking price was not met, the club would take legal action to force their $10 million signing of 18-months ago to see out his contract.

Liu also opened up on other club matters, insisting that the club have no problem with Barrios hoping to return to Europe, while there is still a good chance that Cléo and Paulão will be retained. Regarding sales, Liu told the reporter that “80% of Evergrande players” have had enquiries from other clubs, with Wu Pingfeng and Li Jianhua amongst them, but would reveal no more.

The club, though, are working hard on putting European style structures in place. A 50-page team rulebook has been produced and Liu insisted that the club will be stringent on professional standards, such as implementing a dress code.

Facilities are also in the process of being brought up to elite European standards and a youth development tie-up with Real Madrid is already in place. Evergrande’s ambition to become the leading force in Asian football is taking shape.


Shandong Luneng eyeing managerial possibilities

Shandong Luneng are in the process of recruiting a manager for the 2013 season having employed Wu Jingui in a caretaker role since September. The club have made an approach to former Brazil head coach Dunga, but the World Cup winning captain is reported to be eyeing the manager role at former club Internacional.

However, reports in Serbian media outlet Smedia claim former Shandong boss Ljubisa Tumbakovic is also in talks over the vacant position. Tumbakovic, who managed the club for five years between 2004-09 is a popular figure at the Jinan-based outfit, having won two league titles, two FA Cups and a CSL Cup, including a famous double in 2006 during his time at the club.

In other news, Dalian Shide right-back Zhao Mingjian is close to completing a move to the club after his side’s merger with rivals Aerbin.


Transfer rumour round-up

• Ruch Chorzow’s 27-year-old striker Arkadiusz Piech is another reportedly considering an offer from China. Piech has been amongst the top-scorers in Poland over the last 18-months and was named the 2011-12 Polish Ekstraklasa Player of the Year.
• Another player considering an undisclosed offer from China is Vasco’s out-of-contract midfielder Eduardo Costa, formerly of Bordeaux, Espanyol and Monaco.
• Beijing Guoan have officially denied having any plans to sell experienced defender Xu Yunlong to Shanghai Shenhua. Xu Liang’s move to Shenhua is virtually complete, as mentioned last week.
• In another follow-up from last week, Guoan have also officially appointed Aleksander Stanojevic as their new manager.
• There are suggestions that Guangzhou Evergrande have identified a new Chinese target to strengthen their side in Guizhou defender Zhang Chenglin. It is reported that out of favour forward Jiang Ning would be used to push through a potential deal.

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