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China’s richest man to strengthen Atletico Madrid?

Spanish newspaper Marca is reporting that La Liga champions Atletico Madrid have worked out a deal with China’s richest man Wang Jianlin, head of the Wanda Group, that will see him invest in the club and get involved in the team’s management.

Nothing has been officially announced by either side yet but Marca appears certain a deal has been done. Members of Atletico’s board visited Wang in Beijing earlier this summer and they are one of the sides that are part of his young stars program, where Wanda bankrolls young Chinese football talent to travel to Spain and receive training at top clubs.

Wang’s Dalian Wanda was China’s top side during the 1990s, but he pulled his sponsorship of the team in 1999 due to the corruption in Chinese football. In 2011, he got back involved in the game, providing massive funding to the Chinese Football Association to build up the national team, including the hiring of Jose Antonio Camacho and promoting youth football programs.

This wouldn’t be the first time Wang was (incorrectly) rumored to be purchasing a European football side, but his involvement with the Spanish club makes this appear more realistic than the previous talk. Wanda has also shown interest in local side Beijing Baxy, but instead it appears Wang will stick with his own club, registered in Beijing.

The Madrid side already has a few connections to China, one of their main sponsors is China’s global giant, Huawei. Also, young central midfielder Xu Xin is part of the club’s reserve side.

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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