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   May 13

A-League: Liaoning Whowin express interest in Newcastle Jets midfielder Ma Leilei

SHOP WINDOW: Jets midfielder Ma Leilei has attracted interest from Chinese Super League club Liaoning Whowin after a series of eye-catching performances in the A-League. Picture: Getty ImagesMA Leilei joined the Newcastle Jets on a modest contract in a bid to kick start a career he hopes leads back to China and the riches on offer in the Super League.
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The 27-year-old is not there yet, but his 12 A-League appearances, the past five in the starting side, has attracted the attention ofLiaoning Whowin.

Liaoning Whowin, who are in the Hunter on a three-week pre-season camp, have recently added Socceroos Robbie Kruse and James Holland to a roster that includes former Bundesliga star Anthony Ujah and Zambia captain Chamanga.

Chinese Super League (CSL) clubs are permitted five overseas players but only three can be used in a game.The new regulation has increased the demand –and salary –of quality Chinese players.

Jets chief executive Lawrie McKinna confirmed that Liaoning Whowin had “shown a bit of interest” in Ma but said any deal was a long way off.

The CSLwindow closes at the end of the month, with the competition starting on March 3.

“Clubs will have a list and it will depend if they get the first choice, second choice…there will be a lot on maneuveringbefore the window closes,” McKinna said.

Ma is contracted to the Jets until the end season and it would take a lucrative transfer fee for the club to release him early.

“He has done very well,” McKinna said. “You see the reception he gets when he comes off the park, the fans appreciate him.”

Liaoning Whowin, who finished 10th in CSL last season, will get a first-hand look at Ma in a friendly against the Jets next Wednesday.

“Leilei will probably have half a game, “ McKinna said. “The idea of him coming here was to get back into China.He is not on a big salary. He came here to prove himself. His biggest problemwas that he wasn’t fit.Because they have changed regulations in the Super League, Chinese players are more valuable.When I was coaching therefive years ago, Chinese players were on $30,000 to $40,000 a year, unless they were a national-team player. During the last five years the salaries have gone through the roof. A couple of the boys I had atChongqing are picking up $500,000 US net.”

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