XI'AN, Feb. 13 (Xinhua) -- Wang Linna from the Northwestern Chinese city of Xi'an wanted to buy her boyfriend the jersey of Chinese striker Wu Lei ahead of Valentine's Day, only to find that it had already sold out.
After Wu joined the Spanish Liga Santander side Espanyol on Jan. 28, his new club jersey has become a sought-after item among Chinese customers. Thousands of jerseys were sold out in online shops immediately after Espanyol's official announcement.
Wu contributed two outstanding goals for his national team during the 2019 AFC Asian Cup played in the United Arab Emirates from Jan. 5 - Feb. 2. He insisted playing three matches for China after suffering a shoulder injury, winning China kudos after its embarrassing exit in the last eight of the Asian Cup.
Since that time, the winner of last season's Chinese Super League Golden Boot has been the subject of much speculation.
Although most delivery services have suspended during the Chinese New Year, Chinese fans have not stopped ordering Wu's jerseys online. The supply won't be resumed until March, according to a notice on All Football, a Chinese APP offering football news and selling related products.
Wu has only played 71 minutes of first team football, but has already made a big impact with football fans home and abroad.
"Congratulations to the Espanyol club. Now you have 1.4 billion more supporters," said an Internet user named "Chen Xiaoyang" on Sina Weibo.
Wu threw his fans into a frenzy after provoking a penalty for his new club and helping Espanyol come back for a 2-1 win at home to Rayo Vallecano on Feb. 9.
According to the club's official announcement, the La Liga side is going to launch a limited edition run of replica shirts which can be bought from Espanyol's online shop on Feb. 22, the same day as the home game against Huesca.
To get the gift for her boyfriend, Wang has asked her friend who was traveling in Barcelona to bring back a jersey.
"In the eyes of China's football fans, Wu is a hero. He gave up his high salaries in China and decided to play abroad to improve his skills. He is a man of great courage and determination," said Wang.
A photo of a 16-year-old Wu with Argentinean strikers Sergio Aguero and Lionel Messi taken before a game in 2008 has gone viral on many Chinese football forums.
"As a junior player, Wu had played with Messi. I can't wait to see him play against Messi in a Catalan derby," said Wang.