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Shanghai soccer star to shine in Europe?

He’s off! The long running Du Wei saga is finally over as Chinese football’s man of the moment has sealed a move to Scottish Premier League club Glasgow Celtic. The former European Cup winners completed the signature of the 23-year-old Shanghai Shenhua defender just in time to beat a transfer deadline.

The deal had looked dead this time last week, with Celtic baulking at Shenhua’s £800,000 valuation of the player. But as Shanghaiist revealed in its report from last Saturday’s Shanghai derby match, Du Wei threw his shirt into the crowd following his side’s 2-1 victory against city rivals Inter Shanghai — a common indication in soccer that a popular player has played his last game for a club.

News reports differ on the amount of cash Celtic have paid Shenhua up front, with the figures of £100,000 and £60,000 being quoted. Du Wei however has signed a two-part contract, which gives the club, and the player, the right to sever their ties after four months if either party feels the move is not working out. After the four months, Du Wei has the option of staying at Parkhead for another four years for £650,000.

Du Wei becomes the second Chinese footballer to play in Scotland, following in the footsteps of Asian soccer legend Fan Zhiyi, who had a spell at Dundee FC in 2001.

Shanghaiist wonders if Du Wei will find Scottish English as hard to understand for standard English speakers as Shanghaihua is for Mandarin speakers.

Life without Du Wei began for Shenhua Thursday night at their own Hongkou Stadium, in a cross-Huangpu derby against Pudong’s Shanghai Zobon. Shenhua won 3-0.

This post originally appeared on

A leading international commentator on Chinese football frequently quoted by the world's top media. Offers piercing and resolutely honest insights into the bustling crossroads where football, society, economics and politics meet in contemporary China. Based in Shanghai since 2005, observer of the Chinese game since 2000.

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