Changchun Yatai reportedly keen on Li Shuai reunion

 

Changchun Yatai appear to be making progress on improving their squad ahead of the 2022 Chinese Super League campaign, with reports linking the club with a move for Dalian Professional left back Li Shuai.

Li Shuai Returning Home?

After an impressive fourth place finish in 2021, Changchun Yatai will be keen to bolster their squad and attempt to recreate some truly memorable performances during their return to the Chinese top tier, and addressing some of their aging players will be a step in the right direction.

By the close of last season, Changchun had 13 players reaching the 30-year-old mark, with some of their top performers even approaching their mid-thirties, and the need to bring in younger players appears to be high on manager Chen Yang's agenda.

Rao Weihui, who has been the primary person to step into the significantly important shoes of former team captain Zhang Xiaofei since his retirement in 2019, turns 33 ahead of the start of the new season and it appears as if the veteran left back's age and injury history could see him take a backseat role.

Rumours on Chinese social media site Weibo have linked Changchun Yatai with a move for the recently relegated Dalian Professional's 26-year-old Li Shuai, a player that has amassed 110 total appearances, 62 in the Chinese Super League, since joining the club (then named Dalian Yifang) in 2016.

Capped once for the China national team, Li Shuai would be a solid addition to Chen Yang's squad, with the Shenyang, Liaoning native having the flexibility to play further up the pitch - something that will help him suit the team's adaptive approach and willingness to switch between a traditional back four and five-at-the-back with wing backs.

Li Shuai may be familiar to some connected with Changchun, having played through various age groups with the team between 2007 and 2014 before a move to Portuguese club Clube Desportivo Mafra.

With Dalian suffering relegation to China League One, Li Shuai will want to be playing at a higher level if he ever hopes of making another appearance for the national team - with his one and only cap coming in 2019.

The trip back to Changchun is a relatively short one by Chinese standards, and would see him remain in the northeast and close to his home. For Changchun Yatai, it would give the team an immediate upgrade in defence and would see them get younger almost immediately.

It is still early in the winter transfer window, with the league season not set to begin until late April, but it is important for Changchun Yatai to get their transfer business arranged as quickly as possible before other teams begin to snap up players capable of having a positive impact, and bringing in Li Shuai would be a smart move if it comes to fruition.

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