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Riascos set to leave Shenhua

All hail "Xiao Hei" - pic courtesy of Sina Sports

Bad news for Shenhua fans, good news for everyone else. Last season’s Chinese Super League player of the year and golden boot winner, Duvier Riascos, is to leave Shanghai Shenhua during the mid-season break in July, according to Titan Sports.

Riascos, a cult figure who scored 20 goals last season for Shenhua, is in discussions with Mexican premier league side Club América. The Titan Sports report doesn’t make it clear if the deal is completely done and dusted, but does say that “the countdown to the end of Riascos’ Chinese Super League career has begun.” It also quotes a Mexican media source as saying a person familiar with the situation says Riascos has his heart set on heading to Mexico.

Riascos’ current deal with Shenhua expires on July 25 and he would leave for Mexico after this date, according to the report. However, Shenhua have nine more games to play before then, the last of which against Liaoning at home on July 14.

The Chinese Super League traditionally has a 2-3 week break every summer. It’s normally timed to coincide with the World Cup or European championships, and with the European pre-season warm up period,  to accommodate major clubs’ Asian tours.

Riascos’ loan from Venezuelan club Estudiantes de Mérida was extended for six months at the start of this season, so his departure is not entirely unexpected. So far this season he’s failed to create as much of an impact as as last year, scoring three goals so far in eight Chinese Super League matches, that said he did score a vital last-minute winner against reigning champions Shandong a few weeks back. However, this year he’s looked somewhat disinterested and has been something of a ball hog – his selfishness nearly cost Shenhua victory against Tianjin in their last match when he shot from a tight angle instead of passing to teammates in a far better position.

Shenhua have a fairly threadbare strike force. Only untested youth players remain, with the exception of Dong Xuesheng, who is young but has warmed the bench for the last season or so. It’s interesting to note that no Chinese players have scored in the Chinese Super League for Shenhua yet. Shenhua’s season will probably hinge on who they bring in to replace Riascos in the second half of the season.

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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