HONG KONG (Reuters) - China striker Zhang Yuning has sought to temper expectations in his homeland after completing a two-year loan move to Germany’s Werder Bremen last month.
The 20-year-old was signed by West Bromwich Albion from Dutch side Vitesse Arnhem on a three-year contract in early July before being immediately loaned out to the Bundesliga side.
The move was widely welcomed at home as Zhang became the first Chinese striker to join a Bundesliga side since Yang Chen’s five-year stint with Eintracht Frankfurt and St Pauli came to an end in 2003.
“I have to admit that that was quite big news,” he told the club’s official website of the reaction in China to his move.
“There aren’t many Chinese players playing in Europe, especially not in the five big leagues.
“I’ve quickly been put under great pressure by the media, friends, but also by people who I don’t know at all.
“Everyone suddenly thinks I’m the new hope of Chinese football, even though I don’t think that myself.”
Zhang is the only member of Marcello Lippi’s China squad playing professionally in Europe, with few Chinese players prepared to test themselves in the world’s top leagues.
He spent two seasons in the Netherlands before signing with West Bromwich and then heading to Germany due to British visa restrictions.
Zhang has played fewer than 10 full internationals for his country, with his most recent appearance coming in the 1-0 loss against Iran.
Reporting by Michael Church; Editing by Ian Ransom