SHIJIAZHUANG, China, Jan. 15 (Xinhua) -- Zhang Chengdong, a former defender for Beijing Guoan, has returned home and joined in the Hebei-based China Fortune Football Club, the Chinese Super League (CSL) club said here on Friday.
Zhang, 27, who can play either midfielder or defender, is the first Chinese to show up in the world's top leagues, playing in Portugal andSpain. He also represented Team China as it competed in the 2015 Asian Cup in Australia.
His transfer fee was about 80 million yuan (around 12 million U.S. dollars), a China Fortune source told Xinhua. Earlier, rumors circulated that Zhang would become the most expensive Chinese footballer, with a transfer fee that could reach 150 million yuan (22 million dollars).
In addition to Zhang, 31-year-old Lang Zheng, a center back of Beijing Guoan, also became a member of the China Fortune. Both are natives of Baoding City, north China's Hebei Province, and the two signings were completed after friendly negotiations with Beijing Guoan, according to the Heibei club.
China Fortune says it hopes that the two players, having "returned home," can make a great contribution to the club and strive for the success of football in the province.
The announcement came a day after the club's top executives rejected rumors of their purportedly splashy bids for foreign big names, which have linked the CSL side with Lionel Messi, James Rodriguez, and Pepe.
In refuting the chatter, they cited a consensus within the club that players are mainly to be scouted and signed for their abilities to fit into the existing framework of the team.
Coached by the former manager of Real Madrid and Manchester City, Manuel Pelligrini, China Fortune has also signed former Roma winger Gervinho, Chelsea midfielder Gael Kakuta and Argentina international Ezequiel Lavezzi, but finished a mere seventh in the last CSL season.