Anytime a big European power signs a player from a non-major power, certain fans and pundits immediately turn the discussion to “They’re just trying to market to the fans in that country!” and almost immediately dismisses the player as a marketing afterthought. Back in December, when Bayern Munich announced the signing of Liu Shaoziyang, the club’s first player from China, that was the first thing out of the lips of many. The player, however, is determined to show that he’s more than that.
“I want to assert myself in the team and play a lot of games,” Shaoziyang, who signed a contract through 2025, said in an interview with FCBayern.de.
Before the signing, Shaoziyang had been on trial at the Bayern Campus for weeks living at the boarding school and in training with Bayern’s U-19 side and Bayern II. “I think my technique has improved the most,” Shaoziyang said regarding his training with U-19 goalkeeping coach Tom Starke. “Both when catching and with the ball on the foot. The structure of the game is also a central element in our daily work.”
Everyone remembers Starke for his dutiful job as Manuel Neuer’s backup for years, but what about him as a coach?
“For me, Tom is the best goalkeeping coach and a great person to relate to. He helps me everywhere: whether on or next to the pitch. And because we both speak Spanish, he also regularly helps me to communicate. It’s usually faster than with the German language.”
Servus, Liu!— FC Bayern US (@FCBayernUS) December 16, 2021
18-year-old goalkeeper Liu Shaoziyang becomes first Chinese player at FC Bayern, joining @fcbayerncampus from partner club FC Wuhan Three Towns on a contract through 2025. ✍️✅ pic.twitter.com/BmMFc56nPm
Learning German, as anyone who has tried to learn it can attest, is a work in progress for Shaoziyang. “It’s a difficult language, but I’ve been in class for many weeks and I can understand a lot. Speaking is a little more difficult.”
What does Bayern think about Shaoziyang’s on-the-field skills? They rate him so highly that they’re not willing to let the 18-year-old sit around and wait. According to a report, they’re sending him out on loan to Austria Klagenfurt in the Austrian Bundesliga to get professional minutes under his belt.
Shaoziyang may not ever become a first team player at Bayern or even a Bundesliga player; however, it’s not going to be because he wasn’t willing to put in the work.