Chinese Whispers

Chinese Whispers

By Christopher Atkins (follow Christopher on twitter@china_football)

With a whisperless week over Christmas, there is plenty to catch up on at the start of the new year as Chinese sides continue to strengthen apace ahead of the 2013 Super League season. Christopher Atkins takes a look at what madness has ensued over the past two weeks.

Aerbin strengthen apace

One place where there is definitely no madness ensuing at the moment is Dalian. Complicated merger aside, Dalian Aerbin have enjoyed a highly productive winter break and look set to offer some real competition to Guangzhou Evergrande next season.

Before the new year, Aerbin announced the signings of wingers Chen Tao and Yu Hanchao—as predicted in our last column. Both have extensive experience in the national side and will greatly strengthen the North-Eastern side’s starting line-up. Yu’s transfer is believed to be a new domestic transfer record at around £4 million.

Following the previous additions of talented trio Yang Boyu, Zhao Honglüe and Li Xuepeng, all from now nigh-on defunct rivals Dalian Shide, Aerbin can truly claim to have a side with both quality and depth. Their midfield of Seydou Keita, Fabio Rochemback, Chen Tao, Yu Hanchao and, in front, Yu Dabao is truly exceptional for the league.

Latest reports have the club in talks with PSG striker Guillaume Hoarau, but they face stiff competition from the Premier League.


Evergrande add to national team collection

Zeng Cheng has joined champions Guangzhou Evergrande

Guangzhou Evergrande have certainly not rested on their laurels this new year and, in light of Aerbin’s activity, that may be for the best.

We spoke before Christmas about their capture of Brazilian attacking midfielder Elkeson and, according to current estimations, he will join Dario Conca, Muriqui, Lucas Barrios and Kim Young-Gwon as the club’s foreign players. There was talk of a high-profile European defender, but this week’s news appears to have quashed that.

So, what happened this week? Well, on 1 January, Evergrande unveiled three new signings including two more national team players. With his Henan contract expired, 25-year-old Zeng Cheng arrives to take over as the side’s goalkeeper, while colleague and fellow China international Zhao Peng joins to strengthen the centre of defence.

The club’s third signing is 22-year-old Yi Teng from nearby Shenzhen Ruby. Yi, who spent time with Metz in France, is tipped to go out on loan this campaign.

Evergrande have once more acted quickly and decisively in the transfer market, with the trio joining former-Shenhua winger Feng Renliang at the club when pre-season training commences this week.


Antic begins Luneng restoration

Since our last column, it has also been announced that Shandong Luneng will this year be coached by former Barcelona manager Radomir Antic.

That announcement appears to have given the former CSL champions new hope after a dismal 2012 season and the transfer rumours have been quick to spring up, including the suggested arrival of former Arsenal forward Jose Antonio Reyes or Park Ji Sung. Both have been denied.

One player is already set to arrive, though, in the form of Hearts’ Australian defender Ryan McGowan. The Scottish club are in financial difficulties and the £400,000 offered by Luneng has been accepted without hesitation. A good start to the Antic reign.


News from around the Middle Kingdom:

• Jiangsu Sainty have already signed versatile Shenhua defender Wu Xi and are likely to capture another national team player in the shape of out-of-favour Evergrande forward Jiang Ning.

• Xinjiang native midfielder Bari Mamatil is set to also join Jiangsu as a free-agent, following the completion of his Hangzhou contract.

• Guizhou Renhe defender Dino Dulbic has completed his expected departure, joining UAE based Al-Wahda

• Guizhou are apparently looking to strengthen their defence with a domestic player in the form of Guoan’s Lang Zheng

• Zambian James Chamanga has officially joined Liaoning on a free transfer from Dalian Shide

• Last year’s second top-scorer in the CSL, Peter Utaka, may be on his way to join former coach Aleksander Stanojevic at Guoan following a rejected request for a pay rise at Aerbin.

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