Former Bayern Munich striker Sandro Wagner has praised the state of club football in China. Drawing a balance after his first year with Chinese Super League side Tianjin Teda, the former German international said he was pleasantly surprised by the level of professionalism in the national league.

“The staff is great and entirely focused on our issues,” Wagner commented. “People are getting more and more into football culture. They are very enthusiastic about football and learn quickly. Germany might still be ahead as we can count on decades of development. China needs time, but is on a promising track.”

“China’s league football isn’t yet on the same level as the German Bundesliga. Game speed, tactical training, and players’ individual quality need further improvement, but I can see a lot of motivation to improve.”

Wagner added that the style of play in China was something of a throwback to a bygone era. “Football in China is very physical; many European players aren’t used to that anymore. It took time to adjust to that, but my teammates know how I need the ball.”

“It remains a mystery why the Chinese national team hasn’t done better lately, as I know several national team players. All play at a very high level and I am impressed by their skills. I am sure they will be making significant steps soon.”

Off the pitch, Wagner seems to be acclimatizing to life in the country.

“I am overwhelmed by the Chinese people’s kindness, openness, and helpfulness. I am grateful for that as it makes it easier to adjust to the different life in China.”

“My kids have Chinese friends, and I am pleased about that as it is enriching their life and development. Despite a German community in Tianjin, we meet Chinese people for dinner and spend time with some of my Chinese teammates.”

However, he acknowledged that the food and the language remain a challenge for him. “I am extremely thankful for the help I get. I don’t get along very well with Asian food, but my club is providing pasta for me and give me the chance to make small steps regarding food.”

Last year, Tianjin finished seventh in the CSL table, with Wagner scoring 12 goals. Looking to the new season, the German striker is ready to help the club achieve a better result.

“I heard we achieved the club’s best result in the last 15 years. For so long, Tianjin was struggling against relegation. To finish higher than tenth in the new season is what we are aiming for, as the best clubs are still far away and out of reach. But I am very happy as my club is improving,” he added. Enditem

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