Veteran Hao Haidong to join Blades for a quid
Sheffield United manager Neil Warnock is set to complete the signing of China's most famous player, Hao Haidong, as the Blades bid to gain access to the Far East's potentially lucrative footballing market.
Haidong, who is being released by his club as a gesture of goodwill following his record of good service, is expected to join the Blades for a symbolic transfer fee of just one pound - initially as a player.
But he will also take up a coaching position with the Blades, who see him as the ideal person to spearhead the club's academy set-up in the Far East.
Warnock revealed his delight at being able to sign Haidong, and insisted conquering the Chinese market was something the club was taking very seriously.
'He is still playing in the Chinese team and he's a big tough lad who will do well,' said Warnock, who admitted Haidong would not be a automatic choice for his promotion-chasing Championship side.
'He is going to come initially as a player but he will do some coaching work for us and will eventually return to China with our Academy.
'We are going into it (the Chinese market) in quite a big way. We already have an Academy there and we are always looking to see what we can do over there.'
Haidong's arrival comes weeks after business tycoon Deqing Zhang agreed to invest a significant amount of money into United.
The controversial forward has a colourful reputation back in China.
He was banned for spitting at a linesman during China's quarter-final win over Turkmenistan during the Asian Games in Bangkok in December 1998.
He was also banned by the Asian Football Confederation after a disciplinary meeting held several months later and banned from all international football for both club and country until the end of 1999. That ban was backed up by a similar one for all domestic games by the CFA.
Haidong was also involved in a public slanging match with national coach Bora Milutinovic in 2001 over team selection after being left out of the squad for some of the country's World Cup qualifiers.