Jets to sign Chinese player Ma Leilei
Photo Source: AAP
Newcastle are on the verge of signing a Chinese player with practically no first-team football experience in three years to satisfy the A-League club's new Chinese owners.
Ma Leilei arrives in Australia on Thursday night and is expected to finalise a contract in the coming days.
The 27-year-old winger's imminent signing stems from the desire of new Jets owners, Martin Lee's Ledman Group, to have a Chinese player on the books so as to increase interest in the club in his home country.
Information on Ma is scant, but according to various databases he has not made any first-team appearances since early 2014, when he played a handful of matches with second-tier Chinese outfits Meizhou Hakka FC and Qingdao Jonoon.
His best years came between 2008 and 2012 with Chinese Super League side Tianjin Teda, notching 37 games over five seasons.
During that time he played against Central Coast in the Asian Champions League.
Ma trialled for the Jets during August's pre-season tour of China, coming off the bench in three friendlies.
Given sacked coach Scott Miller was still at the helm, his successor Mark Jones has never seen him play.
The primary concern will be Ma's fitness, and it's unclear whether Jones will find himself under any pressure to give Ma game time if it is not warranted.