MADRID, March 10 (Xinhua) -- Wu Lei's arrival at Barcelona-based club Espanyol could not have come at a better time with the Chinese striker needing just six games to convince companions, coach, pundits and fans that he is not a luxury player signed for strategic marketing reasons, but a key member of the Espanyol first team squad.
When Wu Lei arrived from Shanghai, Espanyol were in a poor run of form which had seen them lose nine out of 10 league games, taking just 3 points from a possible 30 to drop down the table to close to the relegation zone.
His first appearance as a substitute against Villarreal coincided with Espanyol claiming a vital point away to a direct rival in the fight against relegation and his second game saw him win a penalty as his side beat fellow strugglers Rayo Vallecano 2-1.
Espanyol then claimed a good point away to Valencia and a point at home to Huesca, before beating Valladolid 3-1 just over a week ago. That game saw Wu Lei make history as the first ever Chinese player to score a goal in the Spanish Liga Santander.
On Friday the Chinese striker provide his first assist in Spain as his cushioned header set up Facundo Ferreyra for the opening goal in a 1-1 draw away to Athletic Club Bilbao in the always-difficult San Mames Stadium.
Wu Lei has played 374 minutes for the Espanyol first team and has so far not been on the losing side, while his club have climbed to 11th in the Liga Santander table and will end the 27th round of matches at least nine points above the bottom three.
Despite the obvious language problems, he has also struck up an excellent understanding with Espanyol players Borja Iglesias, Oscar Melendo and Esteban Granero, who gave him the pass to help set up Friday's goal, and it is possible that his performances have helped save the job of coach Joan Francesc 'Rubi'.
Rather than being a luxury, Wu Lei has quickly become a key player for Espanyol, and if on top of that he sells shirts and introduces his side to a whole new audience of fans, then that's all the better for the side.