Changchun Yatai only made one signing in the winter transfer window, but a number of players are linked with moves to the club.
Serginho was the only official signing announced by Samvel Babayan, the Brazilian attacking midfielder already impressing his new side with one goal in a recent friendly 2-1 victory over Ukrainian club Dnipro.
With Richairo Zivkovic and Yu Rui leaving the club, Babayan must take action that will give the club the best chance of securing promotion to the Chinese Super League in 2020.
Although no official signing has been made, a number of reports and rumors have emerged of players joining the Northeastern club this winter.
The possible return of a fan favorite
Changchun Yatai has had many players over the years who once played an important role in the club, but who have moved on to higher aspirations.
Sometimes players from the past have chosen to come back and see the remaining years of their careers at the club, just as Du Zhenyu did when he returned from Tianjin TEDA in 2015.
According to reports on Weibo, the same could potentially happen with Zhang Wenzhao from Guangzhou Evergrande, who is expected to return to Changchun after becoming surplus to needs in the south.
Zhang’s best years as a professional footballer came during a five-season spell with Changchun Yatai between 2009 and 2013, where he was the team’s first choice right-winger, playing on the opposite flank of From Zhenyu.
His game evolved to see him swing to the left side, making him a versatile player who won six international caps with the Chinese national team, joining Shandong Luneng in 2014 and Guangzhou in 2016.
Now 32, Zhang Wenzhao is out of favor with the eight-time Chinese champions, spending last season on loan with Beijing Renhe, who finished last season in the Super League.
With his limited options at the next level, a return to Changchun would work for both sides, seeing a former favorite return to the club and give them a solid partner alongside Tan Long on the wing.
The validity of this rumor is unknown. However, the club recently sent Hu Yanqiang back to Beijing Guo’an without a deal, suggesting that Zhang Wenzhao could return, rendering Hu no longer needed.
An import attacker
Richairo Zivkovic was the team’s best forward last season, scoring 16 goals and forming a stronger working partnership with top scorer Tan Long.
The need to replace Zivkovic is obvious, with Tan Long himself expected to play center in recent friendlies in the absence of a real striker.
Reports have started to emerge from a number of sources, including Changchun Chengfeng’s fan group, who suggest ex-Sichuan United striker Aaron Olanare is set to join the club.
Olanare is a known quantity in China, having had his best years in the Middle Kingdom in both Super League with Guangzhou R&F and China League One last season with Sichuan.
In a 34-game spell with R&F, Olanare has been a decent contributor with 15 goals in the Chinese first tier, but last season’s performance in the second tier is what Changchun Yatai could hope to receive in 2020.
With Sichuan, Olanare led the line exceptionally well, scoring 19 goals in just 27 league appearances.
With Sichuan effectively losing their license to play in China League One next season, Olanare found himself without a club and could certainly fill the void left by Zivkovic in the northeast.
Having a great physical player up front with international experience (seven caps for Nigeria) and a penchant for scoring goals regularly is something Changchun Yatai desperately needs and seeing Olanare officially move to the club would be a positive step forward. for Changchun Yatai.
The Beijing duo
Earlier in the winter period, Changchun Yatai brought in two players from Beijing Guo’an, apparently on trial.
Hu Yanqiang and Zhang Yu have spent a lot of time with the club since January and both looked certain to join the club.
Now things look a little different, although there are still two Beijing Guo’an players currently training with Babayan’s squad.
Zhang Yu stayed, playing regularly in center-back friendlies alongside Sun Jie. The 25-year-old is said to be highly regarded in Beijing, but he simply does not have the level of the club’s other center-back options, forcing him to look for regular starting opportunities elsewhere.
With Yu Rui leaving for Shanghai SIPG, Changchun Yatai needs reinforcements at the heart of the defense, with Xiao Yufeng and Li Xiaoming being the only other players available besides Sun Jie.
While Zhang Yu seems increasingly likely to officially sign with the club, Hu Yanqiang has been sent back to the capital without a deal.
As mentioned earlier, this is likely due to Zhang Wenzhao’s potential return to the northeast.
However, Changchun is still considering another Imperial Guard player.
Zhang Zijian is a 22-year-old defender capable of playing center-back and left-back, a position he has played in recent friendlies with the club.
The young reserve player from Beijing is unlikely to be part of the Super League squad and will have the possibility of finding first-team football elsewhere.
While Fan Xiaodong is still expected to be the team’s starting left-back, having a young player behind him for the future could be a smart move for the club.