Liaoning still interested in Australian pair

Robbie Kruse and James Holland have arrived at Liaoning Whowin’s winter training camp but their transfers remain uncertain

Liaoning Whowin coach Ma Lin insists he still wants to sign Australian duo Robbie Kruse and James Holland but concedes it’s up to the club owners whether the deals go ahead.

Kruse and Holland are in China and had been expected to sign for Liaoning this week pending successful completion of their medicals but the Chinese Football Association’s (CFA) shock decision to change the Chinese Super League’s (CSL) rules for foreign players has put the transfers on hold.

In a bid to promote Chinese talent and reduce “irrational” spending on foreign players, the CFA has decided to limit the number of imports permitted on the pitch to three.

This is down from four where one player had to be from a fellow Asian Football Confederation (AFC) member.

Instead clubs must start at least one Chinese Under 23 player.

CSL clubs can still sign five foreign players and the Asian restriction – the so-called 4+1 rule – has been scrapped.

Speaking from Liaoning’s winter training camp in Sanshui, Ma conceded he was unsure about Kruse and Holland’s chances of signing for the club.

“It depends on the senior management of the club,” he said on Wednesday when asked about the Australians’ potential transfers.

“It’s necessary to have five foreign players even though we are only allowed to field three of them in each match.

“A player would be sidelined by injuries, illness or red cards. We can’t expect three foreigners to feature in every minute of a CSL campaign.”

Reports in Germany have claimed Liaoning are prepared to pay Bayer Leverkusen 500,000 for Kruse.

Holland appears to be the player most likely to miss out on a deal if Liaoning choose to go in a different direction, with his current employer Adelaide United still waiting to hear one way or the other where the midfielder’s future lies.

The 27-year-old signed a two-year contract with Adelaide in September.