Bundesliga: Wolfsburg signing Zhang Xizhe gains 50 million TV audience in China

Zhang Xizhe
Image: Zhang Xizhe arrives at Frankfurt airport in Germany on Saturday.

A whopping 50 million viewers were expected to watch prime-time Chinese television when China star Zhang Xizhe gave his first press conference for new club Wolfsburg in Germany.

The 23-year-old attacking midfielder's transfer from Beijing Guoan to Bundesliga side Wolfsburg was completed on Tuesday morning with his first press conference screened live in China.

He has been given a contract until 2017 with Wolfsburg to pay Beijing Gouan a transfer sum of £595,000 (750,000 euros).

At the peak, between 40 to 50 million viewers are expected
Dieter Hecking

Such is the interest at home that China's state broadcaster CCTV was due to screen Zhang's first press conference live to make use of China's prime time viewing market.

"At the peak, between 40 to 50 million viewers are expected," said a Wolfsburg press spokesman.

Should Zhang successfully transfer his Chinese Super League form to the Bundesliga, Wolfsburg will have signed a bargain.

But the club said he will be given an extended period to adjust to the physicality of German football, the culture and the language.

"He is quick and can play in all the positions behind the strikers," said Wolfsburg's coach Dieter Hecking.

"But the boy speaks no English and he has to first of all find his feet with us and get used to the level of training."

Expectation

Zhang arrived in Germany on Saturday and was in the crowd to watch his new team's 1-1 draw against Paderborn on Sunday which left them second in the Bundesliga behind Bayern Munich.

Wolfsburg are on course to play in the Champions League next season and the club's website was launched in Chinese on Monday.

Zhang has made 10 international appearances for China and scored his first of two international goals in a 6-1 thrashing of Singapore in September 2013.

He scored 24 goals in 115 appearances for Beijing Gouan in the Chinese Super League, with a further 29 assists. 

China's Young Player of 2012 will become the only active Chinese player in the German league, but not the first.

He will follow in the footsteps of Hao Junmin, who made 14 league appearances for Schalke 04 in 2010 and 2011; Shao Jiayi, who joined 1860 Munich in 2003, then Energie Cottbus in 2006; and striker Yang Chen, who made 65 Bundesliga appearances for Eintracht Frankfurt up until 2001, scoring 16 goals.

Around Sky