The 6 Chinese Players to Play in the Premier League - Ranked

Ni Hao and ​Happy Chinese New Year, folks!

As the year of the Rat enters its dawn, here at 90min we have compiled a list of six Chinese nationals who have plied their trade in the English Premier League, all with a varying degree of success. 

The zodiac signs of the rat are thought to be industrious, diligent, positive and, as you will see below, those characteristics can be used to describe the playing abilities of some of the names in this list. 

Without further ado, here's how they all got on - and what better way to do it than with a good old ranking!

6. Li Weifeng 

(Everton 2002-2003)

Li Weifeng

Kicking us off at number six is none other than ​Everton legend Li Weifeng, who made a grand total of *checks notes* ONE Premier League appearance during his year-long stint at Goodison Park. 

After establishing himself as a pivotal part of the Shenzhen Ping'an back line in the 1998/99 season, the centre-back was loaned to the blue half of Merseyside in a deal which was orchestrated by Everton's Chinese sponsor, Kejian. 

During his time with the Toffees, Weifeng made just two appearances in all competitions, once in the league in a 1-0 away defeat at the hands of ​Southampton and once in the League Cup; a 3-0 away win over Wrexham. 

Following his unsuccessful loan spell in England, Weifeng returned to Shenzhen after the conclusion of the 2002/03 season. 

5. Dong Fangzhuo 

(Man Utd 2004-2008)

Manchester United's Chinese striker Fang...

Next up is Dong Fangzhuo.

The nomadic Chinese actually signed for English giants ​Manchester United in January 2004 for a fee of £500,000, but he was not able to obtain a work permit and subsequently spent the next two years on loan at Belgian side Royal Antwerp. 

Having impressed in Belgium and scoring 18 goals in his final season with The Great Old, Fangzhuo was handed a contract extension until 2010 by the Glazers. He would, however, only make a single Premier League appearance for the Red Devils, which came in 0-0 draw against ​Chelsea at Stamford Bridge - partnering current manager Ole Gunnar Solksjær up front. 

Fangzhuo even featured for United in the UEFA Champions League in December 2007 against AS Roma, coming off the bench to replace Wayne Rooney in the last group stage game. Despite playing regularly for the reserves, Fangzhuo mutually terminated his contract prior to the start of the 2008/09 season in search of regular football elsewhere.

4. Nico Yennaris

(Arsenal, 2011-2014)

Nico Yennaris,Tuncay Sanli

Nico Yennaris, who joined Arsenal's Hale End academy in 2001, typified what it was like to have a rat as your zodiac sign. 

Hard working, humble, yet positive, Gunners fans thought Yennaris was everything ​Arsenal were missing in their stifling midfield.

Except he wasn't. Not even close. 

Despite his best efforts in the youth teams, Yennaris just didn't quite cut the mustard at senior level and made just a single ​Premier League appearance, coming off the bench to replace Johan Djourou (remember him?) in a 2-1 defeat against Manchester United at the Emirates. 

Yennaris eventually departed north London in January 2014 having made just four senior appearances for the Gunners. 

3. Zheng Zhi 

(Charlton Athletic 2007-2009)

Zheng Zhi

For those of you who are old and wrinkly, like me, you may remember glimpses of Zheng Zhi in a ​Charlton Athletic shirt during the 2006/07 season.

That's because during his short six-month loan spell at The Valley, Zhi featured no less than 26 times for the Addicks. His debut came in a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Manchester United in February 2007, replacing Amdy Faye in the second half. Zhi's first goal for Charlton came in a 2-0 home victory over ​Newcastle United in March 2007. 

Zhi actually signed permanently with the Red Robins at the start of the 2007/08 season and scored a further seven goals for the Championship side following their relegation to England's second division. 

2. Li Tie 

(Everton 2002-2006)

Li Tie of Everton (R) keeps an eye on David Beckham of Manchester United,

Widely regarded as one of the most promising Chinese players of his generation, Li Tie joined Everton on loan from Chinese League One side Leaoning FC at the start of the 2002/03 season. 

Li had a successful spell with Everton as they finished seventh in the Premier League and he made no less than 29 appearances under David Moyes at Goodison Park in his debut campaign. Everton thus brokered a deal for the defensive midfielder to join permanently at the start of the 2003/04 season and the Toffees would pay a fee of £1.2m for the Chinese international, although two-thirds was paid by Everton's Chinese sponsor, Kejian. 

Injuries unfortunately plagued the midfielder and Li would feature a paltry five times for Everton in the 2003/04 season before suffering a broken leg on international duty, which would rule him out for a further 12 months.

Li never fulfilled the promise he showed during the early stages of his career on Merseyside and was eventually released by Everton in May 2006, joining ​Championship side ​Sheffield United

1. Sun Jihai

(Manchester City 2002-2008)​

Manchester City's Chinese player Jihai S...

Before ​Manchester City''s takeover in 2008 allowed them to sign high-calibre defenders such as Vincent Kompany and Aymeric Laporte, the Citizens placed their faith in the more modest, tough tackling Chinese international Sun Jihai.

Prior to joining City in February 2002 from Dalian Shide for a fee of £2m, Sun Jihai actually featured for ​Crystal Palace (who were playing in England's second division at the time) and later became the first Asian player to play for the Sky Blues. 

Making his debut in a 4-2 win over Coventry City, Jihai became a fan favourite with his robust tackling and brutish forays forward, eventually being named 'Best Player at the Club' in September 2002. Sun also became the first east Asian to score in the Premier League after heading home against ​Birmingham City in October 2002. 

Although injuries prevented Sun from reaching his peak, the defender still managed to feature over 130 times for City, scoring three goals in the process.

Source : 90min