Defending Premier League champions Chelsea FC is set to sign Chinese international defender Zhang Linpeng. 26-year-old Zhang plays for Chinese Super League champion side Guangzhou Evergrande as a right-back and is one of the best defenders in the country at present.
According to Chinese media, Zhang Linpeng is expected to go on loan initially to Chelsea. The defender who has been compared to Real Madrid and Spanish star Sergio Ramos and nicknamed ‘Zhangmos’ in his homeland, might become a future replacement for Branislav Ivanovic in the Chelsea squad.
Speaking to Chinese newspaper Titan Sports, Zhang said: “I’m very happy and very excited to finally have this formal invitation.
“I’ve worked hard and waited these five-six years for my dream of playing overseas, and finally have recognition from the English Premier League.
“Although I’m unable to play Premier League directly, I believe [Chelsea] will have the most professional arrangements regarding my permit. I have no worries at all about the negotiations.”
Zhang Linpeng who is predominantly a full-back can also play as a central defender. The defender has won four straight Chinese Super League titles with Evergrande, as well as the 2013 AFC Champions League, and has been described by former coach Marcello Lippi as “the best Chinese footballer in the Chinese Super League”.
Chelsea is in search of quality defenders who could replace their current ageing crop of players. Chelsea has signed Baba Rahman from Augsburg this season and is in pursuit of English central defender John Stones. But as recent reports suggest, Everton is not interested in selling the youngster this season. This might force Chelsea to shift their focus over Zhang.
Zhang is still unsure about his work permit but believes the Blues will arrange for it. It was always his dream to play in the best league in the world.