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Hamsik coup has Dalian dreaming

By Shi Futian | China Daily | Updated: 2019-02-15 09:19
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Marek Hamsik on the ball for Napoli during an Italian Serie A match against Sampdoria on Feb 2. A team lawyer said on Wednesday the 31-year-old Slovakian has sealed a move to Chinese Super League side Dalian Yifang. REUTERS

Signing of classy Slovakian gives Yifang the look of title contenders

After enduring a difficult return to the Chinese Super League last season, Dalian Yifang has reloaded with some serious firepower as it eyes a major improvement this term.

The latest addition to Dalian's ranks is coveted Napoli captain Marek Hamsik. On Wednesday, the lawyer for the Serie A side claimed the deal has been completed.

"Hamsik is a Dalian player from 20:30 (19:30 GMT) this evening," Napoli lawyer Mattia Grassani told Italy's Radio Kiss Kiss.

According to AFP, Napoli had suspended the deal because of a disagreement over "payment methods" with Dalian, which finished 11th in the CSL last season.

However, the move appears to have been revived, with Dalian reportedly set to pay Napoli 20 million euros ($22.6 million) for Hamsik in two installments: 5 million euros immediately, with the balance paid within a year.

The three-year deal will reportedly give Hamsik an annual salary of 9 million euros ($10.2 million)-three times what he earns in Italy.

Capturing Hamsik is a massive coup for Dalian - a rare talent who boasts both world-class playmaking and scoring ability, and who, at 31, is still at the peak of his powers.

The Slovakian international arrived in Napoli in 2007 from Brescia and has gone on to overtake the legendary Diego Maradona as the club's all-time scorer, with 121 goals in 520 appearances.

Although Napoli has pushed seven-time reigning champion Juventus close in recent seasons, a Serie A title has eluded Hamsik in Naples. He has, however, bagged two Coppa Italia championships and one Super Cup title.

News of Hamsik's transfer was greeted with glee by Dalian fans, with many jesting that it was the best Valentine's Day gift they had ever received.

Meanwhile, Dalian has also shaken up its coaching staff, with South Korean boss Choi Kang-Hee on Monday confirmed as German Bernd Schuster's replacement.

The 59-year-old Choi earned a name for himself at Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, who he led to two AFC Champions League crowns, in 2006 and 2016, and six Korean topflight titles.

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