West Brom have signed China international Zhang Yuning for an undisclosed fee in a move that ties in with the Premier League club’s new commercial strategy.
The Baggies announced the arrival of the 20-year-old striker from Vitesse Arnhem on Monday, with Zhang penning a three-year deal before heading out on a two-season loan to Werder Bremen.
Zhang’s signing – described by Albion as a “development project” – has been financed separately from the funds ring-fenced for their 2017-18 transfer budget, a club statement confirmed.
West Brom’s controlling shareholder Guochuan Lai has plans to increase the club’s profile in his homeland.
“Zhang will get the chance to further develop at Bremen, with whom we have an excellent relationship,” said director of football administration Richard Garlick.
“He will be challenging for a place in a top European league and we will be monitoring his progress before reassessing his prospects at the end of the loan period. There is no doubt he has a lot of qualities which Bremen are well-positioned to grow and develop.
“His progress will be the subject of great interest here at Albion but also in Germany and in China.
“There is no doubt that there are commercial benefits that come with the deal but the primary target is to help develop one of the best young players in a booming corner of the football industry.”
China’s ranking outside of FIFA’s top 50 means he would not have received a work permit to play in England, but West Brom hope his spell with Bremen will help Zhang to realise his potential.
Zhang is considered one of China’s brightest talents, though he scored only once in 16 Eredivise appearances last season.
The Baggies completed the signing of Southampton striker Jay Rodriguez for an estimated £15million on Sunday.