Jets, Phoenix eye Chinese players

The two A-League clubs believe China can provide them with long-term growth as they look to improve on their respective 2015-16 campaigns

Newcastle Jets and Wellington Phoenix are both looking to tap into China's football market by signing young Chinese players they can develop.

Jets CEO Lawrie McKinna has confirmed the club will aim to add a Chinese player - potentially on loan - for the upcoming A-League season, while Wellington are more interested in bringing youth players to their academy.

Newcastle were purchased by Chinese company the Ledman Group in May and chairman Martin Lee has been working feverishly to promote the club and generate business interest in his homeland.

And McKinna has revealed a Chinese player - who will need to be ready to play in 2016-17 - is considered a key part of the Ledman Group's marketing.

"To get support from the Chinese market, he needs a player from China on the roster," McKinna told the Newcastle Herald, referring to Lee's plans. 

"We are looking to get a couple of players out here to train for a couple of weeks in August. 

"We have to make sure they can adapt. Firstly, they need to be able to play and they also need to handle being here."

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Lee, McKinna and former Jets and Beijing Guoan striker Joel Griffiths conducted a whirlwind tour of China last week with Football Federation Australia CEO David Gallop also part of the trip. 

It generated significant media interest as the club outlined Newcastle's ambitions for the Chinese market.

The Jets previously had a Chinese player as part of their squad back in 2010-11, with striker Zhang Shuo playing eight games for the club, netting a single goal.

McKinna hinted that the player is likely to be a youngster but insisted they would need to be capable of pushing for a spot in coach Scott Miller's first XI.

"He needs to be able to play a part in the team this year," McKinna said.

"There is no good just signing someone for the sake of it. He has to be good enough to compete for a position."

Meanwhile, Phoenix general manager David Dome has outlined how Wellington plan to use their upcoming trip to China to develop long-term links.

Wellington will head to China in just over a fortnight to contest the Capital Cup against Chinese League One outfit Beijing BG but the Phoenix hope to return to New Zealand with much more than a piece of silverware.

"We'll go up there and we'll talk to the Beijing clubs about player arrangements, coach arrangements, students coming down here to use our academy," Phoenix General Manager David Dome told the Dominion Post.

"They'd come here and do English as a second language and then play football in our academy and we'd train them up and send them back to Beijing to be pro players up there.

"China's just gone bonkers on football and there's millions and millions of dollars being spent on football clubs and you can see they're buying up playing left right and centre."

Dome added: "There's an opportunity to try and identify these really good young Chinese players now, before they become too expensive, and bring them down to the A-League to be part of our team."