Despite being the first Chinese player to appear the UEFA Champions League, one half of China’s most famous footballing double act looks set to return to Shanghai Shenhua.
Sun Xiang, twin brother of Shenhua team-mate Sun Ji, joined leading Dutch club PSV Eindhoven on a six-month loan in January — but the Eredivisie side cannot agree a fee to take up their option of a three-year permanent deal.
The 25-year-old Shanghainese defender is still hopeful of a deal being worked out and is hoping to use this summers Asian Cup — this continent’s equivalent of the European Football Championships — to convince his suitors to work out a permanent deal. As we can see from the Youtube clip, Sun, speaking English better than many intellectually-challenged Premiership players, says that it is his dream to sign a contract with PSV.
Sun previously had an unsuccessful trial with English Premiership minnows Wigan, but by all accounts he has impressed during his spell with PSV. He recently appeared on domestic Chinese TV’s The Football Show during which he discussed his spell with the hosts saying he was hopeful something could be worked out. On the show, a great deal of well-chosen footage was shown of Sun in action for PSV which made him look rather impressive.
Your correspondent thinks Sun has the talent to suceed overseas and appears to be physical enough to deal with the more athletic nature of European football. It’s also interesting to note the genuine respect reflected in the Chinese media and Shenhua fans towards their want-away hero. In Europe, losing a star player to another club, even a much bigger one, is always hard to swallow for many fans, who often can’t wait for him to return to his old patch in his new colours to shower him with abuse. But in China, there’s an honest recognition that the player is moving on to bigger and better things — and of course the chance that he might just prove that Chinese players can cut it at the highest level.
Meanwhile, Shenhua’s difficult season continued last Sunday when a last gasp Diego Alonso goal saw the Shanghai side edge Qingdao 3-2 at Yanshen stadium, to move up into 6th place — but only 3 points off top spot in the Chinese Super League.
Ground: Hongkou Football Stadium, Hongkou District, Shanghai
Capacity: 35,000 (26,000 for football)
Honours: Chinese top-tier league champions: 1995
Chinese top-tier league runners-up: 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2008
Chinese FA Cup winners: 1998
Chinese FA Cup runners up: 1995, 1997, 2015