Changchun Yatai has allowed his best striker from last season to go on loan, but there could be a chance he has to return to the Chinese club.
After a positive 2019 season, Zivkovic secured a loan at English Premier League club Sheffield on Wednesday, seeing him move from second Chinese tier to one of the best leagues in the world.
Changchun Yatai, meanwhile, worked on replacing the Dutch striker, bringing in Brazilian striker Serginho as well as Nigerian striker Aaron Olanare.
This strategy could pay off for the club if a 2020 season comes to fruition, with a strong central attacking partnership needed to complement Tan Long’s talents.
While the club appear perfectly happy with their pre-season activities, there is a possibility that Zivkovic will return to the picture, especially with the impact of the ongoing global pandemic.
Even before the pandemic, which eventually saw football in England come to a halt and, in the lower tiers, shrink, Zivkovic didn’t make a single appearance for the Blades.
Manager Chris Wilder admitted that a decision on whether or not to activate a ‘permanent buy’ clause would depend on training performance rather than matches played, largely due to the strong performance of the club in the league.
But with clubs around the world suffering from the financial impact of the pandemic, some may need to be more careful with their spending, leaving a player like Zivkovic in an unusual predicament.
Due to the lack of football he has played with his last game being in October 2019, he has not been able to demonstrate to other clubs what he can offer them and might find that Changchun Yatai is his best remaining option.
Changchun Yatai appears to be in a stronger position to compete for the promotion of China League One this season and could certainly benefit from the return of someone like Zivkovic.
The Dutch forward scored 16 goals for the club last season and having that kind of proven league goal would put Samvel Babayan’s side in a great position to compete.
This would be difficult, however, with clubs in the second tier of Chinese football being limited to three imported players into their registered squad and only two on the pitch at any one time.
The club’s logical decision would be to sell the 23-year-old and get some of the money he spent on other players back.
However, if the market isn’t there for Zivkovic, fans could see him again in the club’s red and yellow once again in an effort to attract greater interest in his services.
With his lack of appearances in a competitive game for Sheffield United, there is a growing likelihood that Zivkovic will not receive a contract with the English club.
It remains to be seen whether or not that leads him to return to China, where he is still under contract and has a much better chance of playing regularly.