After two years in Arnhem, the Netherlands, Chinese striker Zhang Yuning leaves Vitesse for a move to Premier League club West Bromwich Albion, which immediately sends him out on a two-year loan to German side Werder Bremen on Monday.
"A farewell moment," Zhang Yuning stated through his Instagram account. "What I am going to say to my Vitesse family is thank you for all the help in the past two years, thanks to all the supporters that gave me the trust. You touched me when you shouted out my name. I hope you will create history in this new season and I will always stand on your side."
West Brom bought Zhang Yuning for an undisclosed fee. The 20-year-old forward agreed a three-year deal, but has immediately been loaned out to German side Werder Bremen, because an English work permit would be ruled out for him at the moment.
"He will be challenging for a place in a top European league and we will be monitoring his progress before reassessing his prospects at the end of the loan period," said Richard Garlick, Albion's director of football. "There is no doubt he has a lot of qualities which Bremen are well-positioned to grow and develop."
The deal also makes clear that Albion's controlling Chinese shareholder Guochuan Lai, who took over the club in July 2016, wants to grow the club's profile in his homeland. Zhang is a popular player in China after he made his international debut in June 2016, scoring twice against Trinidad and Tobago.
"His progress will be the subject of great interest here at Albion but also in Germany and in China," said Albion technical director Richard Garlick.
Zhang Yuning played for Gangzhou Greentown in China and signed a two-year deal at Vitesse in the summer of 2015, after several trials in Arnhem. He started in the reserves of Vitesse, but made his debut in the first team on February 2016 as a substitute against Heerenveen. In total he played 24 Dutch league matches, in which he scored three times.
The striker also set a milestone in February 2016, when he became the first Chinese player to score in the Eredivisie, the highest Dutch soccer level. He came on a substitute in the 88th minute at Roda JC Kerkrade and became match winner in injury time.