Changchun Yatai has officially announced its first domestic signings for the winter 2020 transfer, with both players coming from Beijing Guo’an.
After several weeks of training with the club, center-back Zhang Yu has joined Samvel Babayan’s side on loan for the 2020 season.
The 6-foot-2 defender joins Changchun Yatai in search of regular first-team football, which he struggled to lock in the Chinese capital.
The 25-year-old Beijing native has spent his entire career so far with the hometown club, advancing through the youth system before making 34 appearances in all competitions, including 25 in the league, for the imperial guards.
With just four combined appearances in 2019, Zhang Yu takes a step back into the second tier to fill the void (and No.4 jersey) left by Yu Rui, who joined Shanghai SIPG earlier in the transfer window.
With the departure of Yu Rui and club legend Zhang Xiaofei hanging up his boots to take on an assistant coach role with the club’s reserves, Babayan had to take a few steps with the defense, Zhang Yu being joined by Zhang Zijian.
Zhang Zijian joins Changchun Yatai on a permanent transfer, taking the No.2 jersey in the process.
This will be a significant step forward for the 22-year-old, who only played eight professional first-team football matches with Shenyang Dongjin in the 2015 China League Two season.
He joined Beijing Guo’an in 2017 and played regularly for the club’s reserves, as the team’s captain during the 2019 season.
During his training with Changchun this winter, he played his usual center-back position sparingly and looked after the left-back fairly well.
When he returns with the squad, Fan Xiaodong is the logical selection to the left-back position, but due to his blocking in his hometown of Zibo, Zhang Zijian had the opportunity to impress.
His ability to come out widely could give Babayan chances to play a flexible starting XI, with Fan Xiaodong pushing himself into the middle of midfield alongside Zhang Li.