Yuning Zhang is back in the Eredivisie and has a big point to prove at ADO Den Haag after a frustrating year at Werder Bremen.

  • By Michael Bell
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Zhang started his career with Chinese side Hangzhou Greentown but he made a name for himself in the China U17 and U20 sides were he was scouted by Vitesse Arnhem, who brought the striker to the Netherlands in the summer of 2015.

The then 18-year-old started with Vitesse’s U23 side but was handed his debut the following February and then made several appearances off the bench before the end of the season, scoring twice. The following season, Zhang remained the second choice up front for the Arnhem side, scoring once in 16 appearances.

However, West Brom had seen enough to fork out around €7 million to take him to England last summer. The lack of a work permit meant that Zhang was immediately loaned to Werder Bremen for two years, but that was cut short after one season with Zhang failing to make a single appearance.

West Brom is still unable to use their striker and have now sent him back to the Netherlands where he will spend the season on loan with ADO Den Haag, who were keen to have a Chinese player to please their owners.

Zhang may be lacking first-team football, but he is a regular for the Chinese national team now and has two goals in nine appearances for his country.

Style of Play

Zhang is a strong centre-forward who often dropped deep at Vitesse to join in the play and hold the ball up. He is quick, good in the air and a decent dribbler. He often ran the channels at Vitesse and is a good target for counter-attacks.

With ADO Den Haag, Zhang will need to work on his positioning and get involved in the box more to finish off chances instead of dropping deep or sitting out on the wing. Zhang can head the ball well but needs to work on his composure in front of goal.

What to expect from Zhang this season

The 21-year-old is highly regarded as the brightest talent in Chinese football, but he never really lived up to expectations at Vitesse, where he was a reserve before joining West Brom. Since then his career has stalled and a move to ADO Den Haag may be the perfect way to get it back on track.

Bjorn Johnsen is gone now and that gives Zhang the chance to stake a claim to be first choice striker during the new season. Pre-season has been indifferent for the club, but Zhang has shown himself with five goals and he will be hoping to take that form into the Eredivisie.

Michael Bell (59 Posts)