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Jancker off

castenjancker.jpgFormer Germany international Carsten Jancker has confirmed what many suspected and is to leave Shanghai Shenhua FC imminently and return to Europe.

Jancker told the Oriental Morning Post (in Chinese) that he “did not regret” coming to Shanghai and wished Chinese football “good luck” for the future.

Despite being one of the highest-profile players ever to appear in the Chinese Super League, his spell at Shenhua (arguably the nearest thing China has to a ‘glamour’ club) can only be described as one of abject failure. He made nine league appearances, mostly from the bench, and failed to hit the back of the net in the Chinese Super League. He did score once however against Korean club Jeonbuk Motors in the AFC Champions League.

He also earned the first red card of his career, during a league match against Shenyang, at Hong Kou Stadium – an act which incurred the wrath of Shenhua boss Wu Jin Gui.

Jancker complained that he ‘didn’t get a chance’, referring to the fact that many of his appearances were limited to the last 20 minutes or so of games, coming off the substitute’s bench. But Shanghaiist, who witnessed most of his home performances, can say that he was clearly lacking match fitness — he made just five appearances for his old club Kaiserslautern, last season, before joining Shenhua. With his time in China roundly seen as a failure, it’s hard to see Jancker going back to play at the highest level in Europe, seeing as he cannot get himself fit.

Shanghai’s Blue Devil supporters group generally gave the giant, shaven-headed forward a heroes welcome when he signed back in May, but a lack of a return from him since then means there will be few sad to see him leave.

Frank Ding told Shanghaiist, “The Blue Devils think that he is a superstar — but too old. He should return to Germany, he’s done nothing here.”

The 32-year-old also picks up a 500,000 US dollar cheque for his services. Shenhua put a clause in his contract saying that he could not earn this full sum unless he played in 70 percent of matches eligible to play in. His percentage fell slightly short of this threshold, but picked up the full amount regardless on account of him not being eligible to play in the next match after his sending off against Shenyang earlier in the season.

Shanghaiist thinks Jancker’s Shanghai experience was pretty much a waste of time for all concerned. He did add to the growing number of foreign spectators at Hongkou, but that was about it.

A player of his physical stature (1.94m) and who appeared at the 2002 World Cup for his country should have had a far greater impact playing at a level below that which he had previously flourished. Sadly, he didn’t.

Shenhua have a history of making big-name foreign signings; invariably aging stars looking for one last paycheck before retiring. Perhaps the half million dollars squandered on Jancker will be more wisely spent next time.

This post was originally published on Shanghaiist.
This post was originally published 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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