Zhejiang preparing for Chinese Super League return

 

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Zhejiang FC will return to the Chinese Super League for the first time in six years in 2022, and the club is already beginning to work on building the squad that will lead them in the newly expanded competition.

Signings and Re-signings

Arguably one of the most important pieces of business manager Jordi Vinyals needed to accomplish this off-season was the re-signing of first-choice goalkeeper Gu Chao (pictured last year) - who was an instrumental part of the team that earned promotion from China League One.

Gu Chao, who returned to the Hangzhou-based club after winning the 2020 Chinese Super League with the now-defunct Jiangsu FC, played in 32 league fixtures and kept an impressive 11 clean sheets.

The 32-year-old, capped twice for China, has a wealth of experience in the top tier and would surely have a number of suitors had the club not acted quickly. However, he has agreed to a new deal to remain in Hangzhou and provides Zhejiang with a reliable pair of hands between the sticks.

Along with Gu Chao's re-signing, the club also announced a new arrival in the form of 25-year-old Cameroonian striker Donovan Ewolo, who most recently played for Heilongjiang Ice City in China League One.

Ewolo originally moved to Heilongjiang in the 2020 season, featuring in 11 matches and scoring three times as he helped the club to avoid relegation to the third tier. 

In his second season in the northeast, he was a regular feature and scored an impressive 14 goals in 33 appearances as he helped the club to seventh in the final standings.

With experience in China already under his belt, Ewolo could be an important signing for Vinyals' Zhejiang side, who will be wary of top goal-scorer Nyasha Mushekwi's age heading into the new season.

With 37 goals in 62 appearances, Mushekwi has been a crucial player for Zhejiang since first arriving in 2019, having already racked up 53 goals (14 assists) in 91 games with Dalian Professional since his Chinese league debut in 2016.

However, at the age of 34, Mushekwi's long-term future will be uncertain and bringing in the younger Ewolo to continue his progress and potentially learn and support Mushekwi is a smart piece of business for the club, especially with so few other clubs making signings at this stage in the winter transfer window.

The 2021 Chinese Super League season was full of surprises at both ends of the table, not least with 2020 China League One champions Changchun Yatai going on to reach fourth in the standings by season's end. With early, and smart, prepartion Zhejing could bring another surprise to the now 18-team league.

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