Baggies bag rising Chinese star Zhang
China international Zhang Yuning has joined the Premier League’s West Bromwich Albion from Dutch club Vitesse Arnhem for an undisclosed fee.
The 20-year-old striker has penned a three-year deal with the Baggies but will immediately be sent on loan to Bundesliga club Werder Bremen for two years.
Zhang wrote on his Instagram account: “A farewell moment. What I am going to say to my Vitesse family is thank you for all the help in the past two years, thanks to all the supporters that gave me the trust.
“You touched me when you shouted out my name. I hope you will create history in this new season and I will always stand on your side.”
West Brom, which is managed by Tony Pulis, has sent Zhang to Werder because it can’t obtain an English work permit for him at the moment due to China’s position outside FIFA’s top-50 rankings.
“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,” said Albion’s director of soccer Richard Garlick.
Albion’s controlling Chinese shareholder Lai Guochuan, which took over the club in July 2016, wants to grow the club’s profile in his homeland.
“There is no doubt there are commercial benefits 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,’ added Garlick.
“His progress will be the subject of great interest here at Albion but also in Germany and in China.”
Zhang began his career with Hangzhou Greentown in China, signing with Vitesse in the summer of 2015.
He made his first-team debut in February 2016 against Heerenveen, playing 24 Dutch league matches in total and scoring three goals.
In February 2016 he became the first Chinese player to score in the Eredivisie, the top division in the Netherlands, netting his historic goal, which proved to be the match winner, as an 88th-minute substitute in injury time.
Zhang has won nine caps for China, bagging a brace in his international debut against Trinidad and Tobago in June last year.