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The North-East View: Changchun favourite Du Zhenyu returns

Changchun Yatai’s preseason preparations are in full swing with the return of fan favourite Du Zhenyu the highlight of the northeastern team’s incoming transfers so far.

After the disappointing end to the 2014 season, the club owners decided to turn the team into a metaphorical phoenix. They released 22 players and announced their intentions to allow new manager, Gao Jinggang, to build a squad that will aim to compete in the CSL for many years to come.

The team’s foreign players were some of the first to go, with just long-serving Anzur Ismailov and record transfer signing Szabolcs Huszti being retain by the team. But fans have been delighted by two new foreign signings the team have confirmed: Hungarian international midfielder Akos Elek and Niger international strike Moussa Maâzou.

Elek looks set to link up well with Huszti and having two Hungarian internationals playing together can help with communication issues that may have been present last season. The influx of international-calibre players will also boost Yatai’s chances of a higher finish in the 2015 season.

Maâzou has moved around a lot during his career, but he has spent extended periods of time playing in France, Russia and most recently in Portugal. His European football experience can help work well with Huszti and Elek, who have both spent their careers playing there.

Rumours are also circulating that former CSL Golden Boot winner, Hernan Barcos, the former Shenhua and Shenzhen striker, is looking to return to China with Changchun being the rumoured destination.

Barcos, who scored 17 goals in the 2009 CSL season, when Changchun finished runners-up to Beijing Guoan, is currently playing for Gremio in Brazil and the 30-year old Argentinian international, who has scored 23 goals in 69 games with Gremio, could be the ideal striking option for the team moving forward.

Along with the promising international imports, Changchun has made a number of domestic signings, including Han Deming and Shao Shuai from recently relegated rivals Harbin Yiteng.

But the biggest domestic signing for Changchun is the return of former captain and fan favourite, Du Zhenyu.

Du Zhenyu spent most of the last three years with Tianjin TEDA, initially on loan before joining permanently in 2013, and has been released by the CSL team. Fans are said to be delighted about the return of the team’s 2007 CSL-winning captain and are hoping to see him in action with the team on the opening day of the season.

While shirt numbers have yet to be assigned, fans believe Du will retain his former number 8 shirt and it would be no surprise to see many fans sporting that number on their own shirts in abundance next year.

Changchun are making moves to build a strong team and with a new manager in place, the 2015 season looks to be an interesting one for the dongbei outfit.

James Reeve is a British sports writer and editor for Wild East Football. James is an avid fan of Changchun Yatai, having been a season-ticket holder in 2015, and has been involved with Wild East Football for a number of years.

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