One of China’s brightest young soccer stars may be headed to one of the sport’s most storied franchises. Shanghai Shenhua defender Du Wei began a weeklong trial with Scotland’s Celtic FC on Monday. Du, 6-foot-3 and 23 years old, reportedly comes with an £800,000-£1 million price tag. He would be the second major Asian acquisition for the Glasgow-based Hoops this summer. Last week, Celtic purchased Japanese midfielder Shunsuke Nakamura for £3 million. Du’s departure would leave a gaping hole at backfield for Shenhua, currently in third place in the China Super League, 10 points behind league-leader Dalian Shide, with three months left in the season.
“Obviously, it is very hard to see players in that area,” Sinosoc quoted Celtic manager Gordon Strachan as saying. “But he comes highly recommended and we’re looking to bring people in who will make the team better and take it on a level. So we are open-minded and there are a couple of Chinese lads who have done very well in England with their play, their attitude and their fitness and we thought, ‘Yeah, we’ll have a look.'”
One person recommending Du is Howard Wilkinson, the former Leeds United coach who managed Shenhua for about three months in 2004. “He (Du) is very athletic and likes to bring the ball out from the back. He can play and he’d be a useful addition to any squad over here,” Wilkinson said.
In 2001, Du was the Asian Football Confederation Youth Player of the Year. That same year, obese cocaine-addict Diego Maradona predicted Du would be a star after watching him play in the World Youth Championship in Argentina. Du appeared in two of China’s three games at the 2002 World Cup. With Celtic, he would be trying to beat out stopper Bobo Balde. “I know there is a very high standard required for central defenders at the top level in Europe and I would like the chance to develop. I think I could adapt to the different physical demands,” Du was quoted as saying. “I can understand basic English and hope that communication will not be too difficult. I want to give a good account of myself.”
If Celtic wants Du, there is still some doubt as to whether he would be able to get a work permit because he hasn’t played in 75 percent of China’s matches over the past two years.
If Du does become one of the Bhoys, Shanghaiist would like to point out that he’d be playing for a team with a very fan-friendly website. Before the site shows any information, it poses this question: “A match has recently ended. Do you want to know the score?” If only Yahoo! News would have been so thoughtful yesterday when it let a headline ruin the surprise of a key development in the most recent episode of Six Feet Under. Not everyone lives in America!