Jump directly to the content

News Corp is a network of leading companies in the worlds of diversified media, news, education, and information services.

DREAM TEAM

Your Sun

A News UK Company
TOP
STARMAN

Wu Lei is the first Chinese Super League export to break a European league

He takes Lionel Messi in the Catalan derby today

Kids the world over call themselves Lionel Messi when they are relentlessly nutmegging their friends in the park.

But on the streets of Beijing everyone wants to be Wu Lei.

And he’s spreading the good word of Chinese football on the international stage these days.

Guess who?

5
Guess who?

Let’s be honest, the Chinese Super League is seen as a retirement home for former stars of European leagues who fancy a nice little earner before they give up the game.

There have been some mega-transfers going to China in recent year (Oscar, remember him?) but few have made the leap from China to Europe.

Now Wu Lei is breaking the mould.

Oh, there’s Oscar

5
Oh, there’s Oscar

Lei is the focal point of the China national team

AFP OR LICENSORS
5
Lei is the focal point of the China national team

Espanyol signed the 27-year-old in January to save their imploding season.

What they needed was a goalscorer and that is exactly what they got – Lei is the all-time top scorer in the Chinese Super League with 151 goals in 296 games.

His €2million arrival was dismissed by most as pretty blatant attempt to crowbar their way into the Chinese market by club president Chen Yasheng.

A footballing legend… and Fabio Cannavaro

5
A footballing legend… and Fabio Cannavaro

It turns out that Lei has actually been an astute signing and is changing opinions about the quality of the CSL.

It turns out that he is also a superstar in his home country and has given Espanyol unrivalled exposure to the Chinese market. According to MARCA when he scores it has 14 times the impact online in China as when Messi does.

This is going to end in tears

5
This is going to end in tears

Since he arrived in Barcelona the team has seen an upturn in fortunes suffering just a single league defeat having been on a run of nine defeats in 10 games prior.

Having idolised Sergio Aguero and Messi as a youngster Lei will finally share a pitch with his hero as Espanyol play Barcelona today in the Catalan Derby.

If he can score against one of the most recognisable teams in the world his fame will begin to extend far beyond China’s borders.

And if he does, you can be sure there will be a social media earthquake on home soil.


READ MORE FROM DREAM TEAM:

View this post on Instagram

A freak on the pitch 🤢 A gentleman off it 🤵

A post shared by Dream Team (@dreamteamfc) on