MADRID (Reuters) – Espanyol’s new Chinese president Chen Yansheng has targeted a place in Europe as early as next season after officially taking over at the helm of the La Liga club on Thursday.
Chen heads China’s Rastar Group, who are poised to complete the purchase of a 54 percent stake in the Barcelona-based club for around 17 million euros ($18.5 million) once the deal is approved at a shareholders’ meeting.
The model car company, based in China’s southern Guangdong province, announced late last year it would pay cash for the stake and that it planned to increase its investment by up to 45 million euros.
Espanyol, who are overshadowed by glamorous city neighbours Barcelona, the current Spanish and European champions, have typically finished in mid table over the past decade.
Their best finish in recent times was fifth in 2004-05 and they qualified for Europe again the following season by winning the King’s Cup. They lost to La Liga rivals Sevilla on penalties in the 2007 UEFA Cup final.
“History has shown that this is a great club that has not stopped moving forward throughout its 115-year history,” Chen told a news conference on Thursday.
“It will not do so now either,” he added. “A city like Barcelona can have two powerful clubs.”
Espanyol are currently 14th in La Liga and host fourth-placed Villarreal on Saturday.
(Reporting by Iain Rogers, editing by Toby Davis)