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

Espanyol will meet again this Saturday at the Coliseum Alfonso Pérez (6.30 p.m., M. LaLiga) with Chen Yansheng’s first big sports bet as owner and white-blue president: Quique Sánchez Flores. Currently at the helm of Getafe, one of the only two teams that haven’t won a game in the league will try to get closer to the table against a Spaniard who wants to keep 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 cuts demanded by the sports sector. Yansheng chose the former, a Sánchez Flores who spent two completely opposite seasons at the helm of the Spanish bank.

The first, caused by significant investment (more than 18 million), ended with good feelings. The second, marked by the brake applied by the Chinese government, was full of turmoil. Espanyol paid for the frustration and disillusionment of the coach on the pitch who studied an offer from Stoke City in the middle of the year and ended up saying a few words that condemned him: “Maybe we won’t give for more. We have to face this reality and keep pushing. ”Strangely enough, these statements came after Espanyol lost 1-0 to Getafe. One week later, he and Jordi Lardin were fired.

The bad mood created by these statements in the dressing room contrasted with the joy that Quique Sánchez Flores’ first year of the Spaniard had evoked. The Madrid coach brought defensive solvency and competitiveness to a team that had eight points behind them in the Europa League. At the end of this season, the white and blue sports division was preparing a number of strategic steps to take a qualitative leap and compete in Europe. Espanyol’s project has seduced many important players: “Mariano Díaz, Raúl Albiol, Borja Valero and Éver Banega wanted to come here. Everything was discussed and closed, “he confessed in an interview with ARA the then sports director Jordi Lardin.

“A ghost project”

Sánchez Flores’ second year did not start well. Far from replicating last summer’s investments, Espanyol only spent three million euros on three signings (Naldo, Hermoso and Dídac Vilá) on top of the nine promised two purchase options (Darder the Dishes). Those numbers were a far cry from the club’s promises months ago, leading to Sánchez Flores ultimately regretting having participated in “a ghost project” which he walked “with a sense of stagnation”.

Despite a lack of self-criticism, some of the Madrid coach’s claims were justified. Yansheng had publicly promised a project with guarantees to achieve lofty goals, but was unable to develop all of the investments planned to make it happen. This was prevented by the Chinese government, which has included soccer in the list of sectors that have restricted or prohibited Chinese entrepreneurs from investing overseas. “This will have an impact on the growth that we wanted, it will be slower than we expected. Those were restrictions that were not foreseen,” complained the then white and blue Vice President Carlos García Pont.

In the season following the departure of Sánchez Flores and with an almost identical squad, Espanyol showed there was more to come Qualification for the Europa League from Rubi’s hand. At the end of his first year, the Maresme also called for a step forward for the club, but in this case he came across the position of general management who preferred to pay off debts in order to focus on strengthening the staff. The result is the fifth descent in Espanyol history. After the Chinese government’s restrictions were eased and a renewed general management determined to put the money in the square, Espanyol again faces a key moment in achieving the position it has sought since the arrival of Chen Yansheng.

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