Kezman could be next big name to join South China
Former Serbian international Mateja Kezman, a striker for PSV Eindhoven, Chelsea, Atletico Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain, is being lined up by South China to play alongside Englishman Nicky Butt in Hong Kong.
South China boss Steven Lo Kit-sing would not name Kezman, 31, [pictured] as the target yesterday but said: 'We sent out a contract to a European player this morning after his agent agreed initial terms.
'But we can't disclose his name until he has signed the papers.
'However, I can confirm he is 31 years old and is a top class striker who has played for Eindhoven, Chelsea and Atletico Madrid.
'The player is on a free transfer and will sign for us until the end of the season. If everything goes according to our plan, he can come to Hong Kong later this week.'
The Caroliners are eager to strengthen their squad following a dismal defeat to Citizen in the Senior Shield final. On the international front, they are the hosts of next month's Asian Challenge Cup (the traditional Lunar New Year tournament) and are also preparing for the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup which begins in March.
Kezman made his name at Partizan in his homeland before moving to Dutch side PSV for Euro8 million (HK$82.7 million) in 2000.
In his debut season, he was the top scorer in the Dutch league, netting 24 goals in 33 games.
He went on to score 81 goals over the following three seasons with PSV before moving to Chelsea for GBP5.3 million (HK$65.4 million) in 2004.
But he failed to make an impact and left for Atletico Madrid after just one season. Following a short spell in Madrid, he moved to Fenerbahce and won the Turkish Super League.
He joined Paris Saint-Germain in 2008. 'We have a scout in Europe helping us monitor the player and we are happy with his form,' said Lo.
'Even if he can only play to 50 per cent of his best form, he would still be a formidable force in Asia and his combination with Butt will definitely bolster our hopes.'
The Caroliners, according to Lo, are also intereseted in an Australian centre half for the AFC Cup.
Former England international Butt is due to arrive in Hong Kong next week and will start in the Asian Challenge Cup, which also includes mainland teams Guangzhou Evergrande and Tianjin Teda and South Korean side Ulsan Hyundai.
The winners of the tournament on February 3 and 6 at Hong Kong Stadium will receive HK$1.5 million in prize money. Tickets are HK$280 and HK$180 and go on sale today.
Prolific scoring record
The number of goals Kezman scored in 33 games in his first season at PSV was: 24