Shandong Taishan's Guo Tianyu heads to Portugal on loan


There has been a significant shift in mentality with Chinese football, and many of the country's top young talents could find themselves playing abroad in the near future. For Chinese Super League club Shandong Taishan, this has seen Guo Tianyu head over to Portugal on a loan deal until the summer.

Guo Tianyu On The Move

Shandong Taishan, the reigning Chinese Super League and Chinese FA Cup champions, will enter the 2022 season without one of their best young talents after it was officially announced that forward Guo Tianyu will join Portuguese Primeira Liga club Vizela until the end of their 2021/22 campaign.

The 22-year-old Jinan, Shandong native arrives in Portgual on the back of a strong campaign that has seen him claim domestic double medals while notching ten goals in 22 league appearances - seeing him named a finalist for the Chinese Player of the Year award. Since first appearing for Shandong's first team back in 2016 Guo has scored 15 goals and provided a further five assists in 47 total appearances for his home club. 

Prior to establishing himself with Shandong, a 16-game loan spell with fellow CSL club Wuhan FC (then-Wuhan Zall) helped him acclimatise to the professional game, and now he is viewed as one of the best young players in the middle kingdom.

The Chinese Super League is aiming to begin their 2022 season close to the traditional March start date, and it looks likely that Shandong will have to make do without him for at least the early stages while he looks to continue his development with Vizela.

The club, located in the northwestern Braga district of Portugal, are playing their first season in the Primeira Liga in 36 years after securing a second place finish in Liga Portugal 2 last year, and currently sit 13th.

They could be one of many European clubs set to take advantage of the recent shift in the CFA and General Administration of Sport's strategy to progress the quality of Chinese football, with younger players encouraged to seek opportunities to play abroad in order to boost the chances of the national team's success in future years.

The Chinese national team has struggled recently, attempting to improve rapidly through the naturalisation process that has seen many non-Chinese nationals represent Team Dragon on the international stage, including Brazilians Ai Kesen (Elkeson), A Lan (Alan Carvalho) and Luo Guofu (AloĆ­sio) alongside some Chinese heritage players such as the Chinese/British Li Ke (Nico Yennaris) and Jiang Guangtai (Tyias Browning).

With a view to have young, international-quality players go abroad to further their footballing education, Guo Tianyu's loan to Vizela will be watched closely back home and the hope will be that he can take his performances to the next level and truly establish himself as a player the nation can build confidence around for years to come.

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