A press room full to overflowing, a livestream broadcast intermittently grinding to an overloaded halt: The Weserstadion media centre was operating at maximum capacity on 4 July, as Werder Bremen unveiled new forward prospect Yuning Zhang.
Fresh on the books with English Premier League side West Bromwich Albion, Zhang has been farmed out to Werder on a two-year loan deal, having spent the past two seasons playing for SBV Vitesse in the Dutch Eredivisie. Among the journalists attending his first public appearance for Werder was a sizable contingent of Chinese compatriots and Zhang, who speaks good English, drew laughter responding to a few cultural queries. “I wouldn't say I like the food,” he admitted, “but I don't hate it either. On my first day I went to the Ratskeller and tried some typical Bremisches food – it was hard.”
With so many fans in China following the 20-year-old striker's German media debut, the club website at times ran into technical difficulties during its live internet transmission of the event. Werder are making no bones about the marketability of their new signing in his home country but above and beyond that, Zhang has arrived on a sporting mission and vowed to “settle in as quickly as possible. I don't know how long it will take but I'll be working hard for it.”
Sporting director Frank Baumann also made clear the nine-time China international is earmarked for an active first-team role, adding, “We're known as a club who develop young players and that's a reputation we intend to maintain.” For his part, Zhang already counts one Bremen legend among his own role-models: “I really admired Miroslav Klose, he's one of the best strikers of all.” The new sharpshooter got off the mark himself in his second friendly outing for the Green-and-Whites, rounding out a 3-0 win against VfL Osnabrück. Player and club alike hope there will be a good few more to come.