This will be a rare occasion when Worker’s Stadium Ramblings focuses on a non-Beijing Guoan focused topic, though it will be about a player who just left the side. Zhang Chengdong has officially joined Rayo Vallecano on a one year loan deal, he’ll be the first Chinese in La Liga and while the circumstances of the move may leave something to be desired, there’s reason to be optimistic.
It is widely known that Zhang’s move was pushed on the coach by the club’s Chinese sponsors Qianbao.com, who have been trying to build a foothold in Chinese sports. Qianbao provided Vallecano with a list of Chinese players they could choose and in the end they went with Zhang. It’s not the most ideal start or reason for a transfer and may scare many.
Further, Chinese players have struggled recently when joining European clubs (hello Hao Junmin & more recently Zhang Xizhe), and the reputation is that they go abroad for marketing reasons more so than actual footballing ones. But unlike those two, who both went to clubs where were fighting for Champions League spots, Vallecano is likely just happy to be a midtable side this year. He also has previous experience playing in Portugal and Germany, as well as training in Italy, meaning he should be able to adjust pretty quickly. The adjustment period will be made easier because he’ll likely get his first chance to play for them in China (in Qianbao’s home city of Nanjing).
While Zhang’s transfer may not have been for the right reasons, he has a chance to be a regular (or at least get some playing time) in Spain’s top league. He is an extremely versatile player, able to play in attack, on the wing, and in defense and is a hard worker, making him easy to please most managers.
His loss will definitely impact Beijing Guoan as they battle for the title, but if given a chance, Zhang has the potential to impress and hopefully open things up for more Chinese players in the future. If he can do that, everyone will forget the terms in which he joined Vallecano.