Football Leaks: The Strange Story of Hu Ruibao

Ever heard of Hu Ruibao? If you are not up on your SV Darmstadt trivia, you are very much unlikely to have heard his name. The Chinese defender signed a deal with the Lillies on August 7th 2017 after a trial at the club arriving from the Danish club Velje BK, which is owned by Chinese businessman Lucas Chang.

At first the Darmstadt coach saw the potential in his new signing, telling the press: “Ruibao is a talent that can be developed, he has shown his potential during our training sessions. In the last few weeks he has shown the will to become a member of our team.”

The player himself told the club’s YouTube channel that he was impressed by the speed and intensity of the training sessions. Only four months later Ruibao was transferred back to Velje without having a played a single minute of football in Germany’s Bundesliga 2.

Trial at Manchester City

Back in 2016 the player was under contract at Guangzhou Evergrande. Lucas Chang and his partners wanted to see the player at Velje, but not as a player of the club. According to Football Leaks they envisioned a model of Manchester City buying the player.

Chang and his partners pushed for a transfer to happen. At Manchester City they were greeted by Fransico Lopez, a business director at the club. Lopez pushed for the deal to go trough, despite the scouting department finding the defender not to be good enough.

Lopez suggested in an email to buy the player, and then loan him out to Velje. City should give the player a four year deal and allow Chang to sell him back to China after two years. For their troubles Velje should be given 50% of the transfer rights.

In one of the emails obtained by ‘Football Leaks’ Lopez writes that the owner of the club (Chang) could guarantee first team football for the player. In the end Ruibao was given a trial at Man City, but in the end the club decided against signing him. The defender was transferred directly to Velje BK.

Club owner Lucas Chang was also listed as Ruibao’s agent during the negotiations between Ruibao and Manchester City. If the deal had gone through he could have made 250,000 pounds for his troubles.

Back in China

Ruibao was transferred back to Velje on January 3rd 2018. He hadn’t played a single minute of football for Darmstadt during his time at the club. One month later he was given a deal at his former club Guangzhou Evergrande.

Despite being listed with a market value of a measly 100,000 Euros, the defender was given a contract granting him a massive annual salary of 3.5 million Euros.

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Niklas Wildhagen

Niklas is a 33-year-old football writer and podcaster who has been following the Bundesliga and German football since the early 90s. You can follow him on Twitter, @normusings, and listen to his opinions on @TalkingFussball.

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