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Quique Sánchez Flores, Chen’s bet that frustrated the Chinese government

Espanyol will meet again this Saturday at the Coliseum Alfonso Pérez (6.30pm, M. LaLiga) with what was Chen Yansheng’s first big sporting bet as owner and white-and-blue president: Quique Sánchez Flores. Currently at the helm of Getafe, one of the only two teams that have not yet won a game in this league, will seek to move closer to the standings against a Spaniard who wants to continue scoring for the fifth day in a row.

The relationship between the two parties began in the summer of 2016, when the Chinese leader met with the Madrid coach and Paco Jémez, the two candidates who had passed the cut of the requirements demanded by the sports area. Yansheng opted for the former, a Sánchez Flores who lived two completely opposite seasons at the helm of the Spanish bench.

The first, caused by significant investments (more than 18 million), ended with good feelings. The second, marked by the brake imposed by the Chinese government, was full of turbulence. Espanyol paid for the frustration and disillusionment of the coach on the pitch, who in the middle of the year studied an offer from Stoke City and ended up saying a few words that sentenced him: “Maybe we don’t give for more. We have to take on this reality and keep pushing. ” Those statements came, curiously, after Espanyol lost to Getafe 1-0. A week later, he and Jordi Lardín were dismissed.

The bad mood generated by those statements in the locker room contrasted with the joy that had aroused the first year of the Spanish of Quique Sánchez Flores. The Madrid coach brought defensive solvency and competitiveness to a team that was eight points behind in the Europa League. At the end of that season, the white-and-blue sports area was preparing a series of strategic moves to try to make a qualitative leap and be able to compete in Europe. Espanyol’s project seduced many important players: “Mariano Díaz, Raúl Albiol, Borja Valero and Éver Banega wanted to come here. Everything was talked about and closed “, the then sports director, Jordi Lardín, confessed in an interview with ARA.

“A ghost project”

Sánchez Flores’ second year did not start well. Far from repeating the investments of the previous summer, Espanyol only spent three million euros on three new signings (Naldo, Hermoso and Dídac Vilá), which added to the nine it had committed to two purchase options (Darder the Dishes). Those figures were far from the promises made by the club months ago, which caused Sánchez Flores to end up regretting having taken part in “a ghost project” from which he left “with a sense of stagnation”.

Despite the lack of self-criticism, the truth is that some of the claims of the Madrid coach were justified. Yansheng had publicly promised a project with guarantees to be able to aim high, but he was unable to develop all the planned investments to make it possible. This was prevented by the Chinese government, which included football within the list of sectors that have restricted or banned the investment of capital abroad by Chinese entrepreneurs. “This will affect the growth we wanted to have, it will be slower than we expected. These were limitations that were not foreseen “, lamented the then white-and-blue vice-president, Carlos García Pont.

The season after the departure of Sánchez Flores, and with an almost identical squad, Espanyol showed that it did give for more qualifying for the Europa League from the hand of Rubi. At the end of his first year, the Maresme also demanded a step forward for the club, but in this case he ran into the position of a general management who preferred to wipe out debt to bet on strengthening the staff. The result, the fifth descent in the history of Espanyol. With the restrictions of the Chinese government relaxed and with a renewed general management determined to put the money on the pitch, Espanyol is once again facing a key moment in reaching the position it has been looking for since the arrival of Chen Yansheng.

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