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Du on his Wei back to Shanghai

Chinese international captain Du Wei is to return to his old club Shanghai Shenhua shorty, after failing to win a long term deal at Glasgow Celtic.

The defender joined the Irish Scottish club on a four-month loan last September, with a view to making the deal permanent in January. Celtic wanted to extend Du Wei’s loan to the end of the season — but Shenhua are having none of it and have told Celtic they have had enough time to decide weather they want to sign him up permanently or not.

But money, it seems, is the stumbling block for Celtic and not the 23-year-old’s disastrous debut last week which saw him play a cameo role in one of the club’s worst ever results. A substantial proportion of the Scottish football community almost died with laughter when the Glasgow giants were knocked out by Clyde FC — a team which barely attracts 1,000 fans to its games every week, compared with Celtic’s 60,000.

Du Wei was the subject of much unkind ridicule in Scotland following this nightmare debut, but Celtic manager Gordon Strachan told Glasgow’s Evening Times he wanted to keep Du Wei and give him another chance. However the club was unwilling to stump up the £700,000 Shenhua were demanding to take Du Wei of its books permanently instead of extending his loan.

A Celtic spokesperson said: “Clearly, we’re disappointed that an agreement couldn’t be reached to keep Du Wei at Celtic. Everyone at the club sincerely wishes him all the very best for the future.”

Shanghaiist thinks Strachan left it too late to blood Du Wei — the deadline for a decision on whether the club wanted to retain him was looming fast so he had no option but to throw him against a lower-league team, away from home, in the Scottish Cup. Such matches are notorious banana skins and the semi-frozen pitch, unfamiliar surroundings and hard-as-nails first division Scottish players eager to have a go at one of Scotland’s two huge teams would have given Du Wei a more challenging debut than it perhaps looked on paper.

Shenhua will see the whole episode as a case of nothing ventured, nothing gained, and with one of their best players returning, the 2003 Chinese Super League (CSL) champions must surely be among the favourites to win this year’s championship when it kicks off in March. But, expect Du Wei to have another crack with a mid-tier European club within the next two seasons at the most.

This post originally appeared on Shanghaiist.

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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