Chinese Striker Wu Lei May Move to the English Premier League

Espanyol’s Chinese player, Wu Lei (Source: Associated Press)

Several media sources reported that Chinese striker Wu Lei is in touch with the English Premier League team Wolverhampton Wanderers. The 28-year-old forward from Spanish League La Liga team Espanyol may have an opportunity to get a taste of English football as soon as next season.

Wu Lei’s contract with Espanyol expires at end of 2020. It is reported that Wu wishes to stay with the struggling club regardless of the team’s status next season. The Spanish football club based out of Barcelona is currently ranked the last in La Liga, and is facing some challenging uphill battles to remain in the Spanish top-level football tournament. Espanyol is now 6 points short of the safety zone, with 11 fixtures remaining in La Liga.

The Chinese striker joined Espanyol from the Chinese Super League team Shanghai SIPG in January 2019. Wu’s presence in the team brought to it growing attention from Chinese football fans.

Wu Lei is considered one of the best football players in China. For the 2019-2020 season, Wu dressed up for Espanyol for 38 games and contributed a total of 7 goals in all competitions. Wu Lei’s La Liga career reached a new high after scoring against FC Barcelona in early January. The last-minute goal from the Chinese striker helped Espanyol tie the game, and secure one point in its fight to remain in the top-level football tournament.

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The Wolverhampton Wanderers F.C. is standing in a comfortable 6th spot in the English Premier League. The Wolves reached round 16 in the 2019-2020 Europa League tournament, after defeating Espanyol with an aggregated score of 6-3.

Despite the fact that Wu Lei showed little interest in the potential transfer, the Wolves did not give up their bid to acquire the 28-year-old Chinese striker. It would make a huge difference if Espanyol ends up in relegation at the end of the season. Despite showing strong intention to stay with Espanyol regardless of the team’s status, Wu Lei may change his mind to try his luck across the English Channel to continue his professional career in top European football tournaments.

Wu Lei fell victim to the COVID-19 pandemic earlier in March. The Chinese striker tested positive for COVID-19. It took almost two months for Wu to recover from the virus. Experts claim that it should not impact Wu’s performance. The 28-year-old forward is now back to regular training with the team after obtaining negative test results for coronavirus.

Chinese media Sohu Sports attributed the potential transfer to the Chinese owners of the two teams. Chinese businessman Guo Guangchang acquired the Wolverhampton Wanderers F.C in 2016 for £45 million. Sohu Sports also reported that the Wolves are willing to pay a highly competitive price to ensure that Wu Lei qualifies for a work permit to play in the United Kingdom. It is worth noting that Espanyol is also owned by a Chinese company. Rastar Group completed its takeover of the Spanish football club also in 2016.

Wu Lei has not made any public comments regarding the rumored transfer. Wu recently published his weekly journal on Sina Sports where instead of mentioning any possibilities of moving to the English league, he talked about Espanyol’s assistant goalkeeper coach Thomas N’Kono, and his commitment to demonstrate his best game to the team.