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Shandong’s buying spree continues; adding striker Yang Xu

Shandong Luneng have made one of the biggest signings of the transfer window by attracting Liaoning striker Yang Xu.

For the past two years, Yang, arguably China’s best striker, has been a target for many of China’s top clubs. The new signing doesn’t come cheap, with the Jinan club paying a record breaking RMB 20 million for the star

Last season, Shandong was an average club that even flirted with relegation for awhile before Wu Jinggui took over as manager and brought in Du Wei. This season, not much more was expected of them and there was even talk of a major sell-off.

This off-season the side further strengthened their defense by bringing in Zhao Mingjian on a free from Dalian Shide and Aussie Ryan McGowan from Scottish league club Hearts. While these were both seen as prudent moves, they were far from enough to restore the club to its former glory, leaving new manager Radomir Antic with his hands full.

However, since the CFA released its decision on match fixing punishments that saw Shandong “only” get fined RMB1 million instead of the harsher penalties, like points deductions, that were expected, the club has really started splashing the cash. First, they picked up Romanian striker Marius Niculae, who was rumored to be in talks with a few other CSL clubs. They next started promising a “big” domestic signing and when they signed Chinese U22 captain Jin Jingdao from Shenyang Shenbei for RMB8 million, everyone thought that would be it.

They made things all the more interesting this week when they added Liaoning striker Yang Xu. The 26 year old Yang is arguably the best striker in China, and over the past five years nobody can match his CSL strike rate. At RMB20 million, he was an extremely costly purchase, but one that is sure to pay dividends. Already, some are calling him the second coming of Li Jinyu, another Liaoning player who moved to Shandong. That move took place almost 10 years ago and was worth every penny as Li went on to win three titles and set the CSL scoring record in Jinan.

Shandong, preparing to move into a new stadium this year, has quickly turned themselves into title contenders and word is that their transfer spending may not be over. What it will mean for veterans like Han Peng and Liu Jindong is yet to be seen, as its like Antic continues playing the youngsters who shined under Henk ten Cate.

With it looking like nouveau riche Guangzhou Evergrande and Dalian Aerbin will dominate this year’s CSL, it’s good to see one of the traditional, “old money” teams  making themselves into contenders in the new season.

Brandon Chemers aka B. Cheng aka A Modern Lei Feng – is a name which may be familiar to many in the Chinese blogosphere. He currently serves as Editor-in-Chief for Wild East Football and is one of the lonely souls writing about Chinese football in English for the last 10 years. Chemers' credentials are second to none – his former blog focused not only on the fortunes of his beloved Beijing Guoan FC, but a multitude of other aspects of Beijing life. He’s deservedly built a reputation in the Chinese blogosphere as an insightful observer of not only Chinese football, but also the wider picture of life in modern China and its many layers. For WEF, beyond writing about Guoan, he often focuses on fan culture and the business of Chinese football.

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