Liaoning Whowin F.C. has continued its faith in signing Australian players with the arrival of James Holland and Robbie Kruse, from Adelaide United and Bayer Leverkusen respectively, on Jan 22.
While the signings might not be as eye-catching as some of the full fisted plunges taken by other Chinese Super League (CSL) clubs, they are experienced personnel, boasting a combined total of more than 60 international caps, and are also in the prime years of their careers. Neither player is over the age of 30.
Holland has largely been deployed as a holding midfielder throughout his career and will be looked to Ma Lin, Liaoning's head coach, to protect a backline that ranked as the fourth worst in the 2016 CSL season. Kruse is a wide midfielder, or winger, better known for his support play then any potency in front of goal.
Although Liaoning finished the season in 11th position, four points off the relegation zone, the final day win against a Jiangsu Suning side with nothing to play for slightly undermines the precariousness that often faced the Shenyang-based club. It is hoped the pair of signings will stabilize the team and push it further up the table.
Liaoning already has Socceroos Dario Vidošic and Michael Thwaite on its books but, following the Chinese Football Association (CFA)rule change on Jan 16 limiting clubs to playing three foreigner players per match. It remains to be seen whether the Northeast Tigers will keep all four players.