Shanghai Shenhua’s stuttering season in China’s top-level professional football league, the CSL, has taken a major twist after the club announced it signed former Bayern Munich, FC Cologne, Hansa Rostock, Udinese and Rapid Vienna forward, Carsten Jancker.
The giant German with a shaved head, who played for his country 33 times and appeared at the last World Cup, will be sure to cut a striking figure after he is set loose on defences up and down the country.
Jancker, well known to fans all over Europe for his unmistakable appearance and bustling style, leaves Kaiserslautern, who have just been relegated from the German Bundesliga.
The 31-year-old striker, who scored 10 goals for the German national team, becomes the highest profile player ever to have played in China’s domestic leagues, with the exception of Paul Gascoigne who made four appearances for obscure lower league outfit Gansu Tianma in 2003. Shenhua’s last big name was former Rangers and SV Hamburg midfielder Jorg Albertz, also a German, who played during 2003 and 2004 in Shanghai.
Jancker told the Oriental Morning Post that he’d received numerous offers from European clubs, but chose Shenhua because “China to me is a whole new country and culture and I love new challenges,” and added, “I didn’t do it for the money.” Hard to aruge with that — he is being paid a reported USD 500,000 for a one season deal, which is less than a player of his caliber could command in Europe.
The 193cm tall Grevesmühlen-born player has been brought in to replace the hapless Honduran, Luis Ramirez, who, frankly, is the worst foreign player Shanghaiist has seen playing in the CSL — and that is saying something. It also seems that Shenhua manager Wu Jing Gui agrees.
Interestingly, earlier this week fellow Honduran and former Shenhua striker, Saul Martinez, who left the club at the end of last season in the huff at low crowds and joined a Japanese club, has done an about turn and is back playing in Shanghai, where he would have found a near-capacity crowd for the last derby had he not left so hastily.
Wu Jing Gui stated that he was not interested in resigning last season’s top scorer — but never-the-less, Pudong-based Shanghai United thought they would pull a fast one on their city rivals and sign Martinez. Seems like Shenhua have got the last laugh on this episode though — Jancker is a real coup for the team and Shanghaiist will be amazed if he doesn’t score a barrowload of goals.
Shenhua’s star signing could be registered in time to play in the big CSL clash at Dalian this Sunday evening.
Football lovers will get their first opportunity to see him in the flesh in Shanghai at Hong Kou stadium, next Thursday at 7:45 pm when Shenhua play Liaoning FC.
This post originally appeared on Shanghaiist.