Fri, Dec 19, 2014 - Page 19 News List

Zhang tipped to be Bundesliga’s next big Asian star

AFP, BERLIN

VfL Wolfsburg’s new Chinese player Zhang Xizhe poses on the pitch in Wolfsburg, Germany, on Tuesday.

Photo: EPA

Chinese international midfielder Zhang Xizhe, whose transfer to VfL Wolfsburg has attracted huge interest back in China, has been tipped to become the Bundesliga’s next big Asian star.

The 23-year-old, who has signed for die Wolfe until 2017, is set to become the fourth Chinese to play in Germany’s top flight and one of his predecessors, Shao Jiayi, insists he has all the talent to become a household name in Europe.

Shao, who made 168 appearances in Germany’s top two divisions for TSV 1860 Munich and Energie Cottbus, is a former teammate of Zhang at Beijing Guoan, to whom Wolfsburg paid a reported fee of 750,000 euros (US$935,000).

“On the Internet, in the newspapers, you read about his transfer everywhere,” Shao told the Bundesliga’s Web site from Beijing.

“Football fans here are absolutely thrilled. It’s been a good long while since a Chinese player played for a top side in a big European league,” Shao said. “It’s massive news. He’s a really, really good bloke. I know him well, he’s a former colleague and a friend. He has a very strong will and always had the wish to transfer to a top European team.”

“He asked me about the Bundesliga and I gave him positive feedback,” he added. “Of course, the Bundesliga has a totally different class to Chinese football and it will be a big jump. The level in Germany is perhaps the highest in the world, but Xizhe has huge potential. He’s dynamic, has good technique and is intelligent. I think he has the talent, but he’ll need some time to adjust.”

Zhang is likely to challenge Belgium’s Kevin de Bruyne for a place on the left wing and Shao says he is similar to Borussia Dortmund’s former Manchester United midfielder Shinji Kagawa.

“Wolfsburg have lots of great players like De Bruyne and Aaron Hunt, but Xizhe is a totally different player,” Shao said. “He isn’t as physical as De Bruyne, but is just as quick and, from my point of view, he’s better. He’s very clever and he is very similar to Shinji Kagawa. He is small, mobile and doesn’t just think about attack, but works for the whole team.”

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