The CSL are perhaps best known for their world-class players over the years, such as Dario Conca, Didier Drogba, Hulk, Paulinho, Oscar and Javier Mascherano to name a few.
However, while many of the world’s top players have decided to retire in China, there are a lot of young talent in the league. While many of these players struggle to compete for places against big international names, some show why they deserve first-team minutes, albeit with the help of CFA rules limiting the number of foreign players. in a team on match day.
There are a number of interesting Chinese prospects to watch out for in the CSL. Provided they can continue to buy time and avoid interference from the CFA, these players could form the backbone of the national team for the next decade or so. Here are the top three youngsters to watch in the Chinese national league next year.
Huang Zichang – Jiangsu Suning
Known for his fast dribbling and determination on the ball, Huang Zichang had a stellar start to his Super League career, scoring five times in ten games in 2018. Despite an ankle injury that ended his form, he still won the CFA Young Player of the Year award in 2018. Since then, Huang has fought to regain his place in Jiangsu Suning’s first team. In 2019, Huang struggled to find a place in the starting XI, despite his versatility.
In the national team, Huang was able to make his debut on the back of his form run in 2018, but has only made two appearances so far.
Tao Qianglong – Hebei CFFC
Another brilliant offensive player known for his speed and agility is Tao Qianglong, who currently plays for Hebei China Fortune.
Tao made 18 appearances for the club in 2019 – impressive for an 18-year-old.
Although he could only contribute a goal and an assist, his form for the Chinese youth teams is very strong. Tao scored 7 goals in 13 games for the Under-19 team in 2017, which is hugely impressive considering he was only 16 at the time. Tao was also named one of The Guardian’s Top 60 Young Talent in World Football in 2018.
Obviously, Tao has a bright future ahead of him if he can continue to gain playing time and develop his abilities on the wing.
Unfortunately, having to justify his place in the team ahead of Ezequiel Lavezzi is no easy task.
However, Tao has shown that he can do just that. He was a frequent starter during the second half of 2019 and often came for Lavezzi or Zhang Chengdon.
Zhu Chenjie – Shanghai Shenhua
At the tender age of 19, Zhu is a regular starter at the defense center of Shanghai Shenhua, a team that performed poorly in 2019.
However, Zhu stood out, making his debut for the Chinese national team against the Philippines this year.
As the youngest player to ever start for Shanghai Shenhua, Zhu has a lot of potential, as he has already solidified his role in the team. Since his debut, he has also won starts against Syria and Guam for the national team. Zhu really stands out from most other youngsters in the Super League in that he has shown real consistency in the short career he has had so far.
Consistency alone doesn’t win matches, but it’s definitely a good thing to have. While Zhu can avoid injury and maintain his form for both club and country, he has a bright future ahead of him and adds to the CFA Cup winners’ medal he won in 2019.
The WEF would like to thank Matt Brown of liftyourgame.net for this post.