Football: Zhang set to become fourth Chinese in Bundesliga

Football: Zhang set to become fourth Chinese in Bundesliga
Chinese football player Zhang Xizhe (R) arrives at the airport in Frankfurt am Main, western Germany, on December 13, 2014.

BERLIN - Wolfsburg are set to present China midfielder Zhang Xizhe as a new signing to become the fourth Chinese to have played in Germany's top flight - with more likely to follow.

Zhang landed in Germany at Frankfurt airport on Saturday and with only details of the 23-year-old's transfer from Beijing Guoan to be finalised, he is set to officially become a Wolves player in the coming days.

He would be the only currently active Chinese player in the German league, but not the first.

He is set to follow in the footsteps of Hao Junmin, who made 14 league appearances for Schalke 04 in 2010 and 2011, Shao Jiayi, who joined 1860 Munich in 2003, then Energie Cottbus in 2006, and striker Yang Chen, who made 65 Bundesliga appearances for Eintracht Frankfurt up until 2001, scoring 16 goals.

Zhang has already started learning German and Wolfsburg, who are second in the Bundesliga only to Bayern Munich this season, are keeping an eye on other talent in Far East football.

"We've been monitoring the (Chinese) league and national team and there are quite a few interesting players there," Wolves' director of sport Klaus Allofs told Bundesliga.com.

"Chinese football is still developing, but I'm pretty certain there are plenty of good footballers there.

"It's something that is going to come on in the future.

"With Xizhe, we'll see how he adapts and settles in, then we will see what being a good player in China can translate to in the Bundesliga." Zhang is unknown outside China, but Wolfsburg are hoping the Chinese Football Association's Young Player of 2012 will be able to transfer his obvious talent to the Bundesliga.

Zhang has carved out a reputation as both a goal-scorer and provider and scored on his Chinese Super League debut in 2010, managing 11 goals with 12 assists in 30 appearances in the 2013 season.

He has made 10 international appearances for China and scored his first of two international goals in a 6-1 thrashing of Singapore in September 2013.

Making the grade in Germany's top flight is not always easy as New Zealand's Marco Rojas discovered after the A-League's Young Footballer of 2013 joined Stuttgart, but is currently on loan at second division Greuther Fuerth after an injury-hit couple of seasons.

But Wolfsburg insist Zhang will be given time to adjust to German football with the Bundesliga set to break for winter next Sunday until Wolves first game of 2015 at home to Bayern Munich.

"He is a young player with a lot of potential," said Allofs.

"Even if the leap from China to the Bundesliga is a big one, we have every faith in him being able to manage it.

"Of course we are going to give him all the time he needs." Wolves, who are on course to play in the Champions League next season, already have official accounts on Chinese social media channels Sina Weibo, Youku and WeChat and are set to launch the club's website in Chinese.

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