Chinese Super League

‘He had to borrow a training kit’: Chinese fans joke about Cedric Bakambu picture as Beijing Guoan continue baffling stance

Chinese Super League side refuse to confirm whether striker took part in training session amid controversy over big-money move

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 24 January, 2018, 4:28pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 24 January, 2018, 4:28pm

Beijing Guoan declined to confirm Cedric Bakambu’s reported 40 million (US$49.3 million) signing on Wednesday – despite releasing a photo of what looks like the Congolese striker training with the club.

A Guoan spokeswoman refused to deny whether a picture of a training session in Portugal featured Bakambu, who announced his departure from Villarreal last week and said he was leaving to play in the Chinese capital.

It is the second time this week Guoan have remained non-committal about Bakambu, after they said in an earlier statement they believed he quit Spain’s Villarreal for “personal reasons”.

Guoan’s failure to confirm Bakambu’s signing has raised questions over the move by the 26-year-old, which would be the most expensive so far in the current Chinese transfer window.

The lack of clarity comes after the Chinese Football Association sternly warned clubs not to try to get round its 100 per cent tax on transfer fees for foreign players, which was imposed to halt a dizzying series of record signings.

After Guoan released the training-session photo on Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter, fans quickly identified one of the players as Bakambu.

“Because Bakambu is free now, in order to keep in good condition, at his wit’s end, he came to Portugal to occupy his mind,” one fan wrote in a lighthearted post.

“Coincidentally he ran into a certain CSL team training … Because he was travelling without gear, he had to borrow a training kit.”

Reports in Spain and France said the 40 million buy-out clause had been triggered to release Bakambu to play in Beijing, technically as a free agent.

The CFA this month warned it was watching to make sure clubs do not try to avoid the new tax, where a sum equivalent to the transfer fee has to be donated to a fund to develop youth football.

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The tersely-worded CFA statement came after Guoan and Chinese champions Guangzhou Evergrande were reportedly locked in a bidding war for Borussia Dortmund forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Chinese media said Evergrande won the race for his signature – but Evergrande later denied any interest in Aubameyang and repeated a pledge to field an all-Chinese team by 2020.

Beijing Guoan finished ninth in the 16-team CSL last season and appear determined to buy a goalscorer before the start of the new campaign.