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Hamsik admits he is struggling to adapt in Chinese league

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Former Napoli midfielder Marek Hamsik, who moved this winter to Chinese club Dalian Yifang, has told Chinese media that he is struggling to adapt to the new league with teammates who don’t speak a familiar language.

The 31-year-old has made six appearances for Dalian Yifang since joining – all starts – but was dropped out of the squad completely for a 4-1 loss at leaders Beijing Guoan on Sunday. Hamsik admitted that he is in uncharted territory for himself at the new club.

“I am not particularly satisfied with my performances,” the Slovakian international midfielder told Chinese channel China Central Television, as quoted by global news agency AFP. “I have always tried my best to help the team but I’ve not encountered a situation like this before. There are big differences between Chinese and European football, but I will try to overcome this and adapt.”

Hamsik does not have a goal or assist yet in 513 minutes of Chinese Super League play, and he believes it comes down to familiarity. “Many times I want to communicate with my teammates, for example on pitch, but because of the language I can’t, so I can only use gestures,” Hamsik said.

The struggles may not just be down to his new club, however. Hamsik was a bit-part player for Napoli this season before moving on, and in 13 Serie A appearances totaling 922 minutes, he did not register a goal or assist either.

Still, the Slovakian international is not the only one from overseas struggling at Dalian Yifang. His current teammate Yannick Carrasco, who started Super League play with a bang registering three goals in the season’s first two matches, is also said to be wanting out. The Belgian told domestic outlet HLN back in late March, “I would like to return to Europe,” saying that he looked for a way out in the winter but couldn’t make it work.

Carrasco cited the struct rules in China as part of the reason for his uncomfortable state, referring back to a training ground fight last fall that resulted in the Chinese government temporarily revoking his passport, which caused him to miss a pair of international matches. The 25-year-old was benched in the loss at Beijing Guoan on Sunday, left as an unused substitute marking the first match he has missed this season.

Hamsik calls time on legendary Napoli career, off to China

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Marek Hamsik has left Napoli for a big money deal with Chinese Super League club Dalian Yifang.

Hamsik, 31, apologized to fans of the Neapolitan club and praised them for their support over 520 matches, which included 121 goals, 111 assists, two Italian Cups and one Italian Super Cup.

[ MORE: Icardi stripped of captaincy ]

He joins ex-Atletico Madrid winger Yannick Carrasco and former Benfica star Nicolas Gaitan on DL Yifang.

Still, the veteran is emotional about leaving Italy.

“Napoli. I got it tattooed on my skin, just like the first victory in the Italian Cup after 25 years. It’s impossible to forget that party. It’s impossible to forget the moment when I broke Bruscolotti’s record or when I beat Maradona’s goal record.”

Hamsek has 110 caps for Slovakia and definitely had more top-end time with him on the European stage, but felt the need for a rich new adventure. Napoli’s administration has made it clear there will always be a home for him, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he returned sooner rather than later.

 

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Napoli nel cuore 💙 Per prima cosa mi devo scusare con voi tifosi azzurri: volevo, speravo, sognavo di salutarvi con un grande giro di campo abbracciato dal vostro applauso. Mi avete sempre sostenuto e amato incondizionatamente nei momenti belli o difficili: di questo ve ne sarò sempre grato. “Napoli” ce l’ho tatuato sulla pelle: così come la prima vittoria in Coppa Italia dopo 25 anni. Impossibile dimenticare quella festa 💙 impossibile dimenticare il momento in cui ho battuto il record di presenze di Bruscolotti o quando ho superato il record di gol in maglia azzurra del DIO del calcio Diego Armando Maradona. Questo mi rende estremamente orgoglioso. Qui a Napoli sono nati i miei 3 figli, napoletani a tutti gli effetti ☺ Desidero ringraziare tutti: il Presidente che mi ha dato la possibilità di rimanere qui per 12 anni e che ha accettato la mia volontà di provare una nuova esperienza; tutti gli allenatori che mi hanno allenato, ai quali devo la mia crescita come calciatore e come uomo; tutto lo staff medico, tecnico e la Società Sportiva Calcio Napoli tutta; i miei amici, dei quali sentirò la mancanza, ma che so non mi abbandoneranno mai perché sono parte della mia famiglia. Appena sarà possibile spero mi concederete un ultimo giro di campo al San Paolo, per dedicarvi e ricevere il saluto che meritiamo. Vi amo e amerò questa città per sempre. GRAZIE DI CUORE a tutti 💙 e un grandissimo in bocca al lupo ai miei compagni per il resto della stagione: spero riuscirete a vincere l’Europa League! #sempreforzanapoli💙

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China’s Dalian Yifang sign two Atletico Madrid stars

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Atletico Madrid have announced that Yannick Carrasco and Nicolas Gaitan have both been sold to Chinese Super League side Dalian Yifang.

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The La Liga giants released a statement on their website saying that both Belgian international Carrasco and Argentine international winger Gaitan had both made the move to China on a permanent basis.

Atletico’s ownership has consisted of a 17 percent stake from Chinese businessman Wang Jianlin, who runs the company Wanda, since 2015 but he sold that stake earlier this month.

Jianlin is from the Chinese city of Dalian and Wanda are now involved in Yifang, where Carrasco and Gaitan are heading.

“Yannick Carrasco and Nicolas Gaitan will join Dalian Yifang on a permanent deal. Best of luck in China!” Atletico said via their social media accounts.

Atletico are currently second in the La Liga standings, seven points behind leaders Barcelona, and are in the last 16 of the UEFA Europa League. With Diego Costa, Antoine Griezmann and Fernando Torres in attack, Diego Simeone has plenty of attacking option to choose from but Carrasco has been an integral part of his squad over the past few years compared to Gaitan.

Carrasco, 24, has played 124 times for Atletico, as he joined from Monaco in 2015 and went on to score 17 times in 81 La Liga appearances for Simeone’s side.

Gaitan, 30, played 49 times for Atletico after arriving from Benfica in 2016 with the Argentine attacker linked with a move to the Premier League in January but nothing came to fruition.

Earlier this week Portuguese international center back Jose Fonte left West Ham for Dalian Yifang.

The club were promoted to the Chinese Super League for the 2018 season as Champions of the second tier, and they will now have some serious help in making waves in China’s top-flight where stars such as Ezequiel Lavezzi, Axel Witsel, Ramires, Oscar, Graziano Pelle, Javier Mascherano and Hulk play.

Fonte leaves West Ham after one year (for Dalian Yifang)

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Surely it was supposed to go a bit better than this: West Ham has moved center back Jose Fonte to the Chinese Super League.

Fonte, 34, is the latest member of Dalian Yifang, the Irons announced Friday. Reports say it’s a move for about $7 million.

[ MORE: Europa League draw ]

It ends an unexceptional 12 months for the center back, who made just 24 appearances for West Ham after engineering a move away from Southampton.

Fonte was publicly criticized by West Ham’s co-owner David Sullivan earlier this season as Sullivan said his children “begged him” not to sign Fonte and Robert Snodgrass last January. Ouch.

Injured for much of this season, Fonte was one of the Saints’ heroes as the club moved from the disappointment of League One to the Europa League.

Those heroics inspired this longform piece from Joe Prince-Wright.