Changchun Yatai appears to have concluded his transfer activity ahead of the 2020 China League One season.
Now that coach Samvel Babayan has a full squad to choose from, there will be plenty of questions about choosing the Uzbek coach for his starting XI once the season kicks off.
Assuming Changchun Yatai will operate a 4-2-3-1 system, I took a look at what their possible starting lineup might be assuming all players are fit and ready to start first. day of the new season.
Goalkeeper: Shi Xiaotian
Unsurprisingly, Shi Xiaotian will retain his position as the team’s first-choice goalkeeper in 2020, having played the entire 2019 season between Changchun’s posts.
The former Liaoning FC striker made a number of crucial saves for the club and was a big improvement over Wu Yake and Dong Yifan, who will continue to play in the CFA Cup for a few minutes.
His quality in goals has helped keep the North East side in a number of close matches and the hope will be that the 30-year-old can continue to be the guy he has seen throughout 2019. .
Right-back: Yan Zhiyu
This position has prompted many questions over the years, with Zhe Jiang being the team’s most consistent player in the role before leaving when the team was relegated.
Yan Zhiyu grew in the position throughout the season, initially competing with Xue Ya’nan for the starting position before winning and being a stable player.
He can make bad decisions, usually reckless challenges, and sometimes lets his emotions get in his way, but overall he’s a reliable player at this level.
Center-back: Sun Jie
Arguably the main candidate to be the team’s new captain after Zhang Xiaofei’s retirement, Sun Jie remains a key player in Changchun Yatai’s defense in 2020.
Losing him in an unsuccessful spell in Norway in early 2019 arguably hampered the club’s attempts to win promotion to CSL, with form largely inconsistent ahead of his return home.
Sun Jie is a reliable defender and has been with the club his entire career, making him a lock in claiming one of the team’s two starting center-back roles.
Center-back: Zhang Yu
While Changchun Yatai saw Yu Rui leave in the winter transfer window, removing his other most reliable cross in many years, Babayan brought in a player with a lot to prove in Zhang Yu.
The product Beijing Guo’an has experience in the CSL but has not been able to earn regular first-team minutes in the capital. He has appeared stable during the preseason and is expected to form a solid partnership alongside Sun Jie during the 2020 season.
Left back: Fan Xiaodong
Fan Xiaodong has been out of the first team for more than a year after suffering an injury that required intensive treatment in Germany.
He returned to form just after the 2019 season ended and posted on social media about his determination to help the team the following year, which he can do while filling the vacant left-back position.
The loss of Zhang Xiaofei is painful for the fan base, but Fan Xiaodong’s return and his experience and quality at this level in defense should give the team one of the best full backs in the entire league.
Central midfielder: Zhang Li
Easily the team’s best option at the heart of the midfielder last season, Zhang Li retains his starting role when the team takes to the pitch in 2020. With 69 league appearances now under his belt with Changchun, he will continue to be a reliable player in the new season.
Central midfielder: Chen Po-Liang
Taiwan international Chen Po-Liang, one of the team’s latest additions in the winter transfer window, appears to be the perfect partner to put alongside Zhang Li in midfield.
Former Zhejiang Greentown captain found himself without a club after the China League One team cleaned up the house and decided to aim for a younger team.
Chen will be 32 in August, but clearly has plenty of football left and will now have the chance to push for a promotion with Changchun, offering clear leadership qualities in an area that was in desperate need of this upgrade.
Right winger: Tan Long
Last season’s China League One MVP is staying with the squad in 2020 after appearing certain to leave in December / January.
A move to Beijing Guo’an is said to have collapsed, and Tan Long is reportedly back to try to secure a promotion for Changchun on the second application.
His ability to score goals from a wide position makes him the most valuable Chinese player on the team, with 18 goals in charge of the team in 2019.
Attacking midfielder: Serginho
Another new addition to the squad, Brazilian Serginho already appears to be a crucial member of his new squad. His position as the second striker should provide the team with significant support in the third striker, something they sometimes lacked during the 2019 campaign.
Forming a strong partnership with Tan Long and the team’s forward will be crucial for success in 2020 and Serginho’s own ability to score goals and win trophies should give Changchun Yatai a real menacing attack this time. season.
Left winger: Yang Chaosheng
Used mainly as a sub-impact last season, Yang Chaosheng appears to have won over his new manager and is expected to replace Zhou Dadi as the team’s first choice on the left wing.
Yang was a big league agitator last season, frustrating opposition defenders with his elusiveness and determination to retain possession. It should have been used more often in 2019 and now looks set to finally be the starter under Babayan.
Forward: Aaron Olanare
Yet another crucial addition to the squad in the final transfer window, Aaron Olanare has enjoyed a solid 2019 season with Sichuan United. The Nigerian striker scored 19 goals in 27 games in China League One last season and now has better quality players around him in his new squad.
Working alongside Serginho, Tan Long and Yang Chaosheng should give Olanare plenty of opportunities to consistently hit the back of the net in 2020 and continue his strong performances in the Chinese leagues.