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ZHANG EXCLUSIVE

By: Stephen Bateman
Date: 30/12/2000

Crystal Palace boss Alan Smith looks set to snatch the signature of Chinese defender Zhang Enhua. It is reported that the Eagles have already opened negotiations with Zhang, and are prepared to pay up to £1m for the player, who is currently enjoying a loan spell at Blundell Park.

The Chinese captain is currently in the middle of a three-month contract with the Mariners, but it now seems there is very little chance that the popular international veteran will be signing for the club on a permanent basis. Palace, who already have Chinese international Fan Zhiyi on their books, are looking to further strengthen their connections with China by securing the signatures of defenders Zhang, Sun Jihai and Li Ming. The Eagles have been quick to tap into the marketing potential of a country that boasts a population of over one billion people, attracting the attention of thousands of fanatical Chinese football fans to Selhurst Park. It is expected that Palace managing director Phil Alexander will fly out to Beijing over the next few days with a view to completing the triple-signing later this week. This news will come as a further blow to Grimsby Town fans who, along with suffering the agony of the on-off David Nielsen transfer saga, now look set to lose the services of a player who has impressed both on and off the Blundell Park pitch. Dalian Shide, Zhang's current club, confirmed that they and the player are currently in negotiations with the south London club, whilst Grimsby Town officials were unavailable for comment.

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