After remaining quiet in the transfer market for quite some time, Changchun Yatai appear to finally be making up ground with a flurry of signings, reports and rumours over the past week or two.
Clubs across China were making moves to bolster their squads ahead of the 2023 season, even before the transfer window officially opened, but Chen Yang and co remained seemingly dormant for a long time.
However, in less than two weeks, the club have been linked with no fewer than 10 new players, with a handful of confirmed signings, some that appear all-but-confirmed and a couple of other rumours or trials that still need wrapping up.
Via TransferMarkt and Chinese social media, the club have officially signed at least four new domestic players.
Former youth product Li Hong returns to the club after spells with clubs such as Zhejiang Yiteng, Shaanxi Chang’an Athletic and Cangzhou Mighty Lions, with the 30-year-old left back set to take up the vacant starting role left by Rao Weihui’s departure.
One of two Xinjiang native players to move to the northeast, Sabit Abdusalam arrives from Cangzhou Mighty Lions looking to compete for a role on the wing.
The former Xinjiang Tianshan Leopard winger has amassed 152 professional appearances in his career and looks to be a valuable experienced signing.
Fellow Xinjiang native Abduhamit Abdugheni could be in line to start on the right side of defence behind Sabit, with the 25-year-old having gained experience with Xinjiang, Jiangsu Suning, where he won the 2020 Chinese Super League, Cangzhou and most recently with Chengdu Rongcheng.
93 professional appearances, most coming in the top tier, could see him compete with Cui Qi for the right back role, giving the club some much-needed competition for places.
Alongside them is versatile forward/defender Bi Jinhao, who arrives from Shanghai Shenhua. He has played at both ends of the pitch regularly throughout his career and gives Chen Yang options in his line-up, capable of providing defensive depth as well as an option up front.
On the Verge
A handful of players have reportedly already signed various deals with the club, or have at least been confirmed to be training with them so far during pre-season.
He Zhenyu, who had a 10-game loan spell with Beijing Guoan in 2021 and has been a part of the Wolves Academy setup, has reportedly signed with Changchun.
It’s unclear if it is a loan or a permanent move, but he has been photographed multiple times with the team and looks to feature prominently on the left side of midfield once the season gets underway.
Liu Yun, who most recently played for the now-dissolved Wuhan Yangtze River, has been on trial with the club and it’s not yet known if a deal will be struck.
He has plenty of experience with 147 professional appearances, all with Wuhan, and he could compete with Sabit for the starting role on the right side of midfield.
The wing looks set to be a focal point for Chen Yang’s side this year, as the team have reportedly brought in left winger Cao Yongjing on loan from Beijing Guoan.
The former Beijing Renhe winger has 137 professional games under his belt and made regular appearances for Guoan over the past two seasons, so he looks set to make an immediate impact on the team and compete with He Zhenyu for playing time.
With so much depth on the wings, the main area for concern for Changchun Yatai is in the striker position, with Junior Negrao and Erik Lima both departing in January.
A deal that looks set to be completed soon is the loan signing of Leonardo (Leo Souza to some) from Shandong Taishan.
Leonardo recently spent a year on loan with K-League side Ulsan Hyundai and had a positive impact, scoring 11 goals and provided four assists in 34 league fixtures.
Bringing that to Changchun will make a significant difference, with Tan Long and Cheng Changcheng the only recognised first-team players in that position officially signed.
There have been plenty of other rumours circulating around Changchun Yatai’s transfer business recently, with 21-year-old striker Tian Yuda reportedly set to join Cao Yongjing on loan at the club.
The Beijing Guoan youth product has made just four league appearances for the Chinese Super League club, having played in China League One and China League Two in previous seasons as a youngster, and he will be keen to earn more minutes in the top competition as he looks to continue his development away from the capital.
Then there is goalkeeper Wang Zhifeng, who was training with the team earlier in the off-season.
Little has been said about him and his position with the team, and with four other goalkeepers already on the books, it may be that he finds a home elsewhere in the country.
If he is signed, he brings experience in the CSL and is a good age at 25 to continue improving, potentially being a candidate as a long-term replacement for Wu Yake, who projects to remain as the team’s starter this season after the Liu Weiguo experiment did not pan out.