Canada News Agency

Chinese striker Wu Lei tells CGTN he will stay with RCD Espanyol

Wu Lei of RCD Espanyol in the La Liga game against RC Celta de Vigo at RCDE Stadium in Barcelona, Spain, July 19, 2020. /VCG

Chinese striker Wu Lei, who has been playing for Spanish club Espanyol for over a year, said in an interview with CGTN that he will stay at RCDE Stadium despite that the team relegated to the Segunda Division.

"I read a lot of discussions about where I will be next season. Like I said before, I have decided to stay in Espanyol and attend the Segunda Division next season," said Wu.

In the past 2019-20 La Liga season, Wu made 49 appearances for Espanyol in all competitions and scored eight goals, one assist. Meanwhile, Wu's smart move on the field and a sharp sense of opportunity enabled him to distract the opponents' defense even without the ball. Wu's offensive contributions to Espanyol was obviously bigger than what the stats could tell.

Wu Lei (C) of RCD Espanyol shoots the ball in the La Liga game against Barcelona at at RCDE Stadium, January 4, 2020. /VCG

Choosing to stay meant Wu will be absent from the top league for at least one season. It may sound disappointing, but it's not a bad call, especially considering that Wu is already turning 29 years old in less than four months.

There were teams from other European leagues making Espanyol offers for Wu – Watford and Wolverhampton Wanderers of Premier League, for example. However, Watford relegated too this season, and the operations of that club's top office were not helping them stay attractive. Wolves will attend the UEFA Europa League next season. If they are aiming for something – no reason they shouldn't – it hard to imagine that Wu, as a newcomer, will receive much time to perform.

Furthermore, despite his merits, Wu does not seem to fit with the Premier League's playstyle, which focuses more on speed and tussling. He already reached the age when the skills he has are proficient. Starting over in a completely new environment does not sound very reasonable.

Ante Budimir (C) of RCD Mallorca deals with the ball in the La Liga games against RC Celta de Vigo at Iberostar Estadi in Mallorca, Spain, June 30, 2020. /VCG

In fact, Espanyol also expressed their will to give Wu a bigger role with actions. According to Mundo Deportivo, former manager of RCD Mallorca Vicente Moreno will take over to coach Espanyol. He will also bring three players from former employer: Iddrisu Baba, Martin Valjent, and Ante Budimir.

Budimir of the three should be of the greatest help to Wu. The 1.90-meter-tall center scored 13 goals and two assists in 35 games for Mallorca this season. Wu had the best performance pairing with a big man who could deal with the ball. Former Espanyol striker Borja Iglesias was the best example. Budimir and Iglesias share similar skills and should make the same or even better pair with Wu.