Friday, January 18, 2008

Ring Dong!

Transfer activity seems to have picked up this week, the first since the monthly board meeting where it seems Alan Pardew had a budget for new players approved. According to reports, seven-figure bids have been turned down for Andy Gray of Burnley, and Michael Tonge of Sheffield United, and it remains to be seen if further improved bids will be lodged.

With finances tight (at least until we sell someone), one area that Charlton have yet to fully exploit this season has been the loan option. Last year, we saw Zheng Zhi and Alexander Song come to The Valley, and play important parts in the teams improved display in the post-Les Reed era.

This season, we have added Sam Sodje on a season-long loan from Reading, and Danny Mills joined the club from Manchester City up until Xmas. Under the rules, that still leaves Charlton with the option of taking up to three more Premiership players this season, and fans hope one of those will be a proven goalscorer.

The problem is that many of the Premier league clubs will not want to give up a player who could help them, so if we pursue this area, we either need to look at youngsters who have yet to make it, or maybe someone who is older, but hasn’t yet had the chance. And even then, it will only be the bigger clubs who carry the larger squads that we will be able to try to succeed.

One such player could be Zheng Zhi's Chinese team-mate Dong Fangzhuo, currently languishing in the Manchester United reserves, and unlikely to get any first team playing time in the foreseeable future.

Dong Fangzhuo joined United in January 2004, he finally made his senior Reds debut in May 2007 against Chelsea. He had spent two years on loan at Royal Antwerp until he was eligible to play in England and in his first season in Belgium, he was the league's top scorer with 17 goals, and in fact scored 35 goals in 61 games during his time at Antwerp.

Dong has been something of a revelation in the reserve games he has played for the Old Trafford team this season, but their fixtures over the Xmas period have been almost non-existent, so current form is tough to comment on. What is certain, is that he has little chance of breaking into the first team when players like Rooney, Ronaldo, Saha, Tevez, etc are all ahead of him in the pecking order.

With Dong joining ZiZi at 10 Downing Street this week (pic), perhaps Pards asked Gordon Brown to broker a deal that would see Dong play the final months of the season alongside his China team-mate? If United could be pursuaded to compensate some of his salary (which is probably too high for Charlton to pay by themselves), then this could be a good little earner for Charlton.

I do believe that the club has yet to fully exploit the Chinese market for watching their heroes in action (exploit isn’t really a “Charlton” word is it?), but if both Zheng and Dong could be pushed into action for the same team, not only would additional ticket sales almost certainly recompense the outlay on Dong, but shirt sales could increase, online hits would definitely jump massively, and further Asian TV rights might be available to negotiate?

Is it worth a try?

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