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Guangzhou Evergrande shock rivals with Mei Fang capture

Guangzhou Evergrande have announced the surprise capture of former Wuhan Zall captain and right-back Mei Fang on a free transfer to start the 2014 calendar year with a significant statement of intent.

Mei Fang, 24, becomes the club’s second official transfer of the off-season, joining Brazilian Rene Junior in joining the Tianhe Stadium side in recent weeks. Shanghai East Asia youngster Hu Bowen and Qingdao captain Liu Jian, meanwhile, are also reported to have joined the club although no announcement has yet been forthcoming.

It had been thought that Mei would be set for a move north in 2014, with Beijing Guoan having been linked with his services after a 2013 campaign in which he was one of the few Wuhan players to emerge with his reputation enhanced.

While offering Evergrande the ability to rest star Chinese defender Zhang Linpeng, who was forced to play extended periods of the 2013 season whilst carrying an injury, Mei’s capture also raises the prospect of Zhang featuring at centre-back on an increased basis.

Despite their success in 2013, there has been much talk in the Chinese media over recent weeks of tiredness affecting Evergrande towards the end of their campaign which ran through until mid-December. While spring cleaning is set to see the likes of Qin Sheng and Yang Jun move on in the weeks ahead, the club look set to recruit extensively once more.

International midfielder Liu Jian is expected to be the next player through the door at the club, with the Qingdao midfielder’s contract with the relegated club having expired on December 31. Liu’s arrival was reported by the same Sina journalist who broke news of Mei’s impending signing on Tuesday morning.

Based in Guangzhou, Christopher covers Chinese football for a range of media outlets worldwide and is Wild East Football's lead editor for news content.   His work can regularly be seen on ESPN FC, Bleacher Report and Hupu amongst other media outlets, while he has interviewed a number of leading figures in Chinese football.

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