Wu urged to say adios to Es­panyol for English club

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS - By SHI FUTIAN shi­fu­tian@chi­nadaily.com.cn

With his club star­ing down the bar­rel of rel­e­ga­tion to the sec­ond di­vi­sion, Wu Lei’s fu­ture in Spain is com­ing un­der in­creas­ing scru­tiny.

Wu’s Es­panyol now looks doomed to the drop, sit­ting bot­tom of the ta­ble and 10 points from safety with just six games to play.

Hav­ing been linked with Wolver­hamp­ton Wan­der­ers in re­cent weeks, for­mer China in­ter­na­tional and Manch­ester United player Dong Fangzhuo reck­ons Wu should con­tinue his Euro­pean ad­ven­ture in the English Premier League.

“If Es­panyol is rel­e­gated to the sec­ond-tier league, will Wu Lei stay at the club? I think no mat­ter if Es­panyol is rel­e­gated or not, a bet­ter choice for him is to go to the Premier League,” Dong said in a video on so­cial me­dia.

“I think Es­panyol is not a good fit for Wu now. Con­sid­er­ing the team’s de­fi­cien­cies in mid­field, the lack of sup­ply to Wu up front and the squad’s over­all in­sta­bil­ity, I don’t think Wu should stay at the club.”

De­spite his team’s strug­gles, Wu’s in­di­vid­ual per­for­mances have proven he can cut among Europe’s elite.

“He should be in the English Premier League. He is now much more ma­ture in terms of body strength and men­tal­ity,” said Dong after Wu net­ted his eighth goal of the sea­son in a 2-0 win against Alaves in early June.

Wu has been widely hailed as a suc­cess in Spain since ar­riv­ing from Shang­hai SIPG in Jan­uary 2019. Last term, the 28-year-old’s goals and as­sists helped Es­panyol to a sev­enth-place La Liga fin­ish, how­ever, since then the club has been deal­ing with con­stant up­heaval.

Last week, the Chi­nese-owned club ap­pointed its fourth coach of the sea­son after sack­ing Abe­lardo Fer­nan­dez.

Sport­ing direc­tor Fran­cisco Rufete has been put in charge for the re­main­der of the cam­paign. How­ever, after be­gin­ning his reign with a 1-0 home de­feat against leader Real Madrid on Sun­day, Es­panyol now re­quires some­thing of a mi­nor mir­a­cle to avoid rel­e­ga­tion.

Wu’s chal­leng­ing 2020 was fur­ther com­pli­cated by the COVID-19 pan­demic, with the striker and his wife test­ing positive for the coro­n­avirus in March.

After shak­ing off the virus, Wu gave Es­panyol a glim­mer of hope by net­ting in its first match game of the restart, the win over Alaves.

How­ever, that hope has proved to be fleet­ing, with Spanish me­dia re­port­ing that Wolves are now cir­cling for Wu’s sig­na­ture — ru­mors that the player him­self has made light of.

“Ac­tu­ally, be­fore La Liga re­turned, there had al­ready been many ru­mors on­line about the trans­fer of me and my team­mates,” Wu wrote on his per­sonal blog. “We joked that the me­dia have al­ready sold off half of our team. But to think about the ru­mors in an­other way, it shows that

Wu Lei re­acts dur­ing Es­panyol’s 1-0 La Liga loss to Real Madrid on Monday.

our abil­i­ties have been ac­knowl­edged by the pub­lic.”

Wu has of­ten in­sisted that he will re­main at Es­panyol even if they are rel­e­gated.

How­ever, calls are in­creas­ing from ob­servers back home for him to con­sider a move else­where.

An ar­ti­cle on chi­nanews.com on Monday urged Wu to be­come a lit­tle more “self­ish”.

“There won’t be a sin­gle easy game for Es­panyol in the re­main­ing sched­ule,” read the com­men­tary. “Un­less Es­panyol can pro­duce a mir­a­cle, rel­e­ga­tion is in­evitable for the club.

“So for Wu, it’s time for him to think about his fu­ture… The best Chi­nese home­grown player de­serves a po­si­tion in the start­ing XI of a team that plays in a topflight Euro­pean league. Wu is a humble per­son, but a pro­fes­sional ca­reer can be cruel. No­body will give you a bet­ter of­fer due to your self­less­ness.”

Wu is un­likely to be short of of­fers from Euro­pean clubs this year, with his tens of mil­lions of Chi­nese sup­port­ers adding to his ap­peal. That’s if he can wave good­bye to his life in Barcelona.

“The most valu­able as­pect for me here is the fans,” Wu wrote in his per­sonal blog. “De­spite the matches be­ing held be­hind closed doors now and fans be­ing re­stricted from hav­ing close con­tact with us, I can still see many fans wav­ing our ban­ners and cheer­ing for us on our way to the match and out­side the sta­dium.”

REUTERS

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