Chinese Star We Lei Already Has Espanyol's Highest Shirt Sales
In recent years Chinese Super League teams have been hoovering up a lot of talent from Europe, both young and old, but it’s actually a Chinese player who’s moved from the CSL to Espanyol that’s creating headlines.
Marek Hamsik became the latest player to move from one of Europe’s best teams to China when he signed for Dalian Yifang on Thursday, adding to Marouane Fellaini’s recent move in January to Shandong Luneng Taishan.
It continues the recent tradition of Chinese Super League sides spending big money to get some of football’s biggest names to move to their league, with Hulk, Oscar and Carlos Tevez amongst some of the other biggest names.
Some players have come back from China, with Axel Witsel playing well for Borussia Dortmund after a spell in the far east and Paulinho’s year back at Barcelona going well until he returned to China last summer.
Up until recently though all the focus when it comes to the CSL had been on the big names from the west, that was until January. In the winter transfer window Espanyol signed Wu Lei from Shanghai SIPG, signing for €2 million.
According to SPORT the 27 year old’s is already the biggest selling shirt at the club, even though he’s only played two games so far.
In Lei’s debut, a 2-2 draw against Villarreal, 177,000 people tuned into the match in Spain but 40 million people watched on tv in China.
For further context the recent Classico match, in the first leg of the Copa del Rey semi final, 10 million people tuned in to watch the two biggest clubs in Spain.
SPORT also report that the club are set to bring out limited edition shirts with Wei’s name in Chinese, whilst Borja Iglesias and Marc Roca, will also get their own versions of the kit as the other top two selling shirts.
Wei’s impact for the CSL could be huge as the first player to have been home grown and moving away from the league.