We here at are loving the attention the Chinese league is getting due to Shanghai Shenhua’s signing of Nicolas Anelka, but now there’s finally a chance to take a break from being all Anelka, all the time. Beijing Guoan confirmed that they have signed Shao Jiayi yesterday, and while the signing pales in comparison to the Frenchman, it’s still big news.
Shao, a born and raised Beijinger, came up with Guoan’s youth team and when he made his professional debut in 1999, he was part of Guoan’s young core of stars that included Xu Yunlong and Yang Pu. He was tipped to be a star, joining the national team the next year and quickly becoming an important part of the squad, and was on the 2002 World Cup roster. His play for the national team caught the eye of 1860 Munich, who purchased him from Guoan that year. After spending a number of seasons with Munich, he moved to Energie Cottbus in 2006 and spent the next four years with that club, before heading to MSV Duisburg in the close season.
Much like Li Tie (who he accidently injured in a national team practice), Shao struggled with injuries off and on during his years in Germany, which cut into his time with the first team and led to him being overlooked by managers. He also will never be forgotten by this reporter for his crucial failed penalty kick against Australia during qualifying for the 2010 World Cup. His clubs were equally unlucky, during his time with Munich and Cottbus, both were relegated from the German top flight.
Shao is nearing the end of his career (he’s 31 now), but still has another few good years left in him. Despite his advanced age, he had his best season in Germany in 09-10, when he scored 8 goals in 25 matches for Cottbus. He’s never been a straight up attacking midfielder, more of an organizational player in the middle, though he can be deadly with free kicks. With him and Xu Liang standing over the ball, plenty of goalies are sure to be scared this season. Shao is a respected veteran with unique international experience, he’s arguably the most successful of all Chinese players who’ve played abroad, and surely part of this signing was Guoan thinking about its current crop of talented U-23 midfielders like Piao Cheng, Zhang Xizhe, and Zhu Yifan.
While helping develop the youngsters will be part of Shao’s role, the team is expecting Shao to make an on-field impact next season. It’s also wonderful to finally see a player who sticks to his word. Starting with his former teammate Yang Chen, a number of Chinese players have left the Chinese Super League promising that if they ever came back, they would only return to their old club, but when it comes time for them to return, they go to the highest bidder (most recently Hao Junmin broke his promise). Shao has always said that if he returned to the Chinese Super League, he would only play for Guoan and he stayed true to his word. He should be applauded for this loyalty.
News and Notes
- There have been a number of Chinese Super League coaching signings that we’ve yet to share, in Henan, Dutchman Jan Versleijen agreed to terms with the club, he’ll be paid $500,000 while working to make a contender out of the Zhengzhou side. Dalian Aerbin’s been busy on the transfer market, but they didn’t have a coach, that has changed now that they’ve poached Qingdao’s manager Chang Woe-Ryong for next season. Despite financial problems, it appears Hangzhou has hired Okada Takeshi for the 2012 season.
- The global media keeps bringing up rumors of Didier Drogba to Shanghai Shenhua, that IS NOT happening, though Shenhua does say they are in talks with a former “World Player of the Year”.
- Guangzhou Hengda’s star (and Chinese Super League Player of the Year/Golden Boot Winner) Muriqui has garnered interest from Brazilian clubs who have made some big offers, though it appears Guangzhou is unlikely to sell.