Former Asian Player of the Year Zheng Zhi has left Guangzhou FC, ending a trophy-laden 12-year spell with the eight-time Chinese Super League (CSL) champions, local media reported.
The official Xinhua news agency said on Monday that the 41-year-old was not included in the squad, nor among the club’s coaching staff, in the list submitted to CSL officials before the start of the season. the new season. The report says he opted not to stay at the financially-struggling club after his contract expired at the end of last season.
Zheng, who played 108 times for China and captained the team, made 11 appearances last season and became player-manager when Fabio Cannavaro left last year. He was expected to lead the team in the new CSL campaign as a long-term replacement for the Italian.
Reuters has requested comment from Guangzhou, which has made no official statement about Zheng. Zheng played 215 times for the team, leading them to the Asian Champions League title in 2013 and 2015.
The versatile midfielder joined the club, which had been relegated following a match-fixing scandal, in June 2010, the same year property developers China Evergrande Group took over. After helping them rise to the top flight, Guangzhou won seven straight CSL titles.
In 2013, Guangzhou became the first Chinese club to be crowned continental champions since Liaoning in 1990 when they won the Asian Champions League, Zheng being named Asian Player of the Year that season. But the club have been devastated by Evergrande’s debt problems, with foreign players Paulinho, Anderson Talisca, Alan Carvalho, Elkeson and Ricardo Goulart all gone.
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