Date: 17th January 2007 at 2:15pm
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Chinese international Dong Fangzou finally finished his spell at Royal Antwerp, having signed a new contract with United after securing a work permit to be able to play in England.

I still remember the day when he signed in 2004. I was baffled. I saw the news on CNN teletext (what a useless detail for an article, really…) and I asked myself, ‘who’s this and why we need him?’.

It’s 2007 now but I’m still not convinced. Really, with the likes of Rossi, Frazier Campbell, Febian Brandy or Joe Fagan at the club, we need a young Chinese attacker? He’s scored 35 goals in 60 games in Belgium and that’s not bad but Belgian second division is hardly comparable to the Premiership.

Well, I’m left to stew in my doubts, as Sir Alex Ferguson is excited to welcome the first-ever Chinese player to wear the United shirt.

‘We’re all excited he has eventually arrived and can start playing,’ he told ManUtd.com. ‘He sacrificed two and a half years at Royal Antwerp, which showed great patience and determination.

‘He is quick and athletic and he can only improve by training with the first team squad here.’

He looked good in the various pre-season tournaments he participated in, and scored the winning goal against Kaiser Chiefs last summer. But one can’t avoid the suspicion he was eventually bought for marketing and merchandising reasons… we will find out. After all, there’s the positive example of Park: an Asian player who became a success story at Old Trafford (or so I think). But of course, Park’s an established international who tortured the Milan backline beyond dignity while playing for PSV in 2005 so comparisons might be misleading…