Hebei Fortune have smashed the domestic transfer record with a move worth €20 million for the defender

He may have played just eight rather unsatisfactory minutes of La Liga football, but that hasn’t stopped Zhang Chendong from becoming the most expensive Chinese footballer in history. 

The 27-year-old defender made history in December 2015 when he came off the bench for Rayo Vallecano against Atletico Madrid, making him La Liga’s first-ever Chinese national. 

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But that debut lasted just eight minutes, and it was the last action the Beijing Guoan man saw for the Spanish side in league football – although he did add three Copa del Rey appearances during his loan spell in Vallecas. 

Still, Hebei Fortune are convinced Zhang has what it takes, and have added him to a squad containing the likes of Ezequiel Lavezzi, Gael Kakuta and Gervinho for the mammoth sum of €20 million. 

The fee has smashed the Chinese record for a domestic player, previously held by Guangzhou Evergrande who shelled out €12m for fellow defender Zhang Chenhang. 

Zhang’s transfer marks a homecoming of sorts for the player, who hails from Hebei and started his professional career at nearby Liaoneng Whowin. 

He made the switch to European football in 2009 when he was picked up by Portuguese third-tier side Mafra, and went on to play in the top flight for Leiria and Beira Mar. 

After a short stint at Germany’s Eintracht Braunschweig, Zhang moved back to China with Beijing Guoan, where he has starred since 2013 with the exception of that ill-fated loan spell in Spain.