Changchun Yatai have officially announced their first domestic signings of the 2020 winter transfer, with both players joining from Beijing Guo’an.
After a number of weeks training with the club, centre back Zhang Yu has joined Samvel Babayan’s side on loan for the 2020 season.
The 6-foot-2 defender joins Changchun Yatai in search of regular first-team football, something he has struggled to lock down in the Chinese capital.
The 25-year-old Beijing native has spent his entire career to date with his home town club, progressing through the youth system before making 34 appearances in all competitions, 25 of those in the league, for the Imperial Guards.
With just four combined appearances in 2019, Zhang Yu is making a step down into the second tier to fill the gap (and #4 shirt) left by Yu Rui, who joined Shanghai SIPG earlier in the transfer window.
With Yu Rui departing and club legend Zhang Xiaofei hanging up his boots to take on an assistant coaching role with the club’s reserves, Babayan needed to make some moves with the defence, with Zhang Yu being joined by Zhang Zijian.
Zhang Zijian joins Changchun Yatai on a permanent transfer, taking the #2 shirt in the process.
This will be a significant step up for the 22-year-old, who has played just eight matches of professional first-team football with Shenyang Dongjin back in the 2015 China League Two season.
He joined Beijing Guo’an in 2017 and has featured regularly for the club’s reserves, captaining the side during the 2019 season.
During his time training with Changchun this winter, he has played sparingly at his usual centre back position and has filled in fairly well at left-back.
When he is back with the team, Fan Xiaodong is the logical selection at the left-back position, but due to him being stuck in his home town of Zibo, Zhang Zijian has had an opportunity to impress.
His ability to step out wide could allow Babayan chances to play a flexible starting XI, with Fan Xiaodong stepping up into the centre of midfield alongside Zhang Li.