China Asian Players in Europe

Wu Lei on the scoresheet in RCD Espanyol’s 4-0 friendly triumph

Wu Lei got on the end of a far-post header to score this goal as RCD Espanyol beat Almería 4-0 in a friendly match ahead of the 2020/21 season.

The Chinese striker came up through Shanghai SIPG’s youth rank, making his senior debut at just 14 years and 287 days old, earning himself the record as China‘s youngest professional player. Wu Lei went on to lift 3 league titles with his boyhood club which includes the Chinese Super League title in 2018. 27 league goals in 29 games won Wu Lei the 2018 golden boots award, beating the likes of Odion Ighalo and Cédric Bakambu, as well as the Chinese FA’s player of the year award.

With such an impressive CV, many European clubs quickly contact Shanghai about Wu Lei but it’s Chinese-own RCD Espanyol that manages to convinced Wu Lei to join in January of 2019.

There were doubters but Wu Lei quickly won the Spanish fans over and finished the season with 3 goals and 1 assist in 12(4) La Liga appearances. Wu Lei represented The Blanquiazules in the UEFA Europa League and netted 4 times in 2019/20 but his effort wasn’t enough to rescue to club from relegation.

Speaking in late July 2020, Wu Lei told China’s Xinhua news that there was indeed interest from Premier League, Bundesliga and other La Liga outfits. However, Wu Lei decided to pen a contract extension until June 2024 – expressing that his family already felt at home in Barcelona and that he is motivated to help Espanyol bounce back to La Liga in 1 year.

“I am very happy and proud to be able to renew the contract with the team,” the 28 years old told the club’s official website. “I firmly believe that through hard work, we will return to La Liga as soon as possible.”