Shanghai Port reportedly interested in Elkeson return

 

According to media reports in China, Shanghai Port are interested in bringing recently-released naturalised players to the club ahead of the 2022 Chinese Super League campaign, with striker Elkeson specifically mentioned.

The Return of Ai Kesen?

The unstable situation surrounding the eight-time Chinese Super League champion Guangzhou FC saw the club make the surprising announcement that the contracts of five Brazilian-Chinese players would end - with Elkeson (Ai Kesen), Alan Carvalho (A Lan), Fernando Henrique (Fei Nanduo), Aloisio (Luo Guofu) and Ricardo Goulart (Gao Late) all finding themselves without a club even before the season ended.

All of the players had been involved in the heavily publicised naturalisation process spearheaded by Guangzhou FC, seeing all players earn Chinese citizenship and the majority of them subsequently go on to debut for the China national team.

Gao Late, as he is known in China, has already found himself playing in his native Brazil with Santos, scoring a goal in his first five games since returning home, but at the time of writing, none of the others have officially joined another club since departing southern China.

Luo Guofu and A Lan were both involved with China's most recent international matches, the disappointing World Cup qualifying losses to Japan and Vietnam, and there's belief they could still seek opportunities to return to a club in China.

But the strongest indication of a player returning to the middle kingdom has emerged in Chinese media today, with reports suggesting that Shanghai Port, who finished second in the 2021 Chinese Super League, are interesting in bringing back Ai Kesen and potentially one of the other naturalised players.

Ai Kesen, who has scored four goals in his 13 appearances for Team Dragon since becoming a Chinese citizen, has be one of the most dominant players in the CSL since he burst into the league with Guangzhou in 2013.

Since making his debut with the club, the Brazilian-born forward has scored an astonishing 158 goals and provided a further 69 assists in 281 total games in both domestic and continental competitions during his spells playing for Guangzhou as well as Shanghai Port (between 2016 and 2019).

Now, the 32-year-old finds himself without a club, but he could be in line for a return to Shanghai as the club look to push for silverware after falling short to Shandong Taishan's league and cup double triumph in 2021.

Having a player of Ai Kesen's calibre, while also counting as a Chinese player rather than an import, would be a significant addition for Shanghai Port, and would provide Oscar with another top quality teammate that could push them over the edge - much like it did in 2018 when the club won the league with him on board.

Reports were unclear on who the other naturalised player the club could be potentially interested in was, but it certainly looks as if Shanghai Port are determined to make a serious run at the Chinese Super League title in 2022.

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