Club News

Albion recruit future prospect Zhang

ALBION have completed the signing of one of China's brightest young football talents.

Yuning Zhang, a 20-year-old striker who has been playing with Vitesse Arnhem in the Eredevisie since 2015, has been recruited on a three-year contract for an undisclosed fee.

But Baggies fans will have to be patient for a glimpse of the China international in action in the Club's famous stripes after Albion agreed an immediate two-year loan for Zhang with Bundesliga outfit Werder Bremen.

Albion describe the deal as a "development project" for one of the biggest names in Chinese football in the hope that Zhang can one day make a breakthrough at Premier League level.

The Club have also made it clear that the investment sits outside the ring-fenced transfer budget for strengthening Albion's Premier League squad for the forthcoming campaign.

With China currently outside the top 50 of FIFA's world rankings, a work permit would be ruled out for Yuning and the chance to play in Germany's top division is seen as an ideal alternative nurturing ground.

The deal also aligns strongly with the commercial strategy of Albion's controlling shareholder Guochuan Lai in his efforts to grow the Club's profile in his homeland.

Zhang's signature for the Baggies is expected to trigger unprecedented interest in the Far East in the only Chinese-owned Premier League club.

Richard Garlick, Albion's Director of Football Administration, flew to Germany this week to tie up the details of the three-club deal and said: "Zhang will get the chance to further develop at Bremen, with whom we have an excellent relationship.

"He will be challenging for a place in a top European league and we will be monitoring his progress before reassessing his prospects at the end of the loan period. There is no doubt he has a lot of qualities which Bremen are well-positioned to grow and develop.

"His progress will be the subject of great interest here at Albion but also in Germany and in China.

"There is no doubt that there are commercial benefits that come with the deal but the primary target is to help develop one of the best young players in a booming corner of the football industry."

Yuning is a hugely popular figure in China where he caused a major stir by scoring two goals on his international debut against Trinidad & Tobago a year ago.

He has subsequently been regularly included by new "Team Dragon" manager Marcello Lippi. Yuning also became the first Chinese player to score in the Erevedisie following his transfer to Vitesse from his first Chinese club Hangzhou Greentown.

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