ESPANYOL

Espanyol sign Chinese star Wu Lei

Wu Lei has been the Chinese Super League's top scorer for six seasons and is a strategic signing of Espanyol's Chinese club owner Chen Yensheng.

Just twelve hours after suffering their ninth defeat in ten games at the hands of Real Madrid, Espanyol officially announced the signing of Wu Lei from Chinese Super League club Shanghai SIPG FC.

Wu Lei, who was the Chinese league’s top scorer last season with 27 goals, will arrive to European football as a strategic signing of club owner Chen Yensheng, who wants to expand Espanyol’s popularity in the Chinese market.

But aside from the expected popularity gains for the club in the Far East from signing one of Chinese football's top stars, Espanyol, currently residing in 15th place and just four points below the drop zone, hope Wu Lei will contribute goals to help lift them out of relegation danger. Although concerns have naturally been raised about his lack of experience in European football.

Wu Lei "huge potential" to become "key player" at Espanyol

In an official statement, Espanyol were particularly optimistic about their new signing, hailing Wu Lei as “one of the most important acquisitions in its modern history, as several people in charge consider him a player with huge potential and capable of becoming one of the key players in the squad.”

The Barcelona-based club did not specify the length of Wu Lei’s contract or whether the player arrived for a fee or on a free transfer. It is likely they will allow the player himself to manage his own image rights, at least in the Asian market.

"The signing of Wu Lei by Espanyol confirms the commitment of president Chen Yansheng and, consequently of Rastar Group, with the project that he has been leading for more than three years," the club said in its statement, adding that the president “has repeated in his public statements that this is a long-term project and that his idea is to continue betting firmly on the future of the club.”