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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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Congratulations to Wu Lei who just won the Golden Boot award of Chinese Super League! He is the best football player in China and both of us are ambassadors for China's most popular football app Dongqiudi. #China #Beijing #Olympic #Football #Goldenboot #Chinesesuperleague #Dongqiudi
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.
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