Newcastle dismisses speculation linking Ma Leilei with Liaoning Whowin
Newcastle don't expect Chinese Super League club Liaoning Whowin to table an offer for Ma Leilei, amid speculation the import could leave the A-League just as he's prospering.
Ma signed for the Jets in October -- before coach Mark Jones had even seen him play -- to satisfy new owner Martin Lee's desire to have a Chinese player on his club's books.
With practically no first-team football experience in three years, the 27-year-old attacker was expected to struggle.
But the former Tianjin Teda man has proved his worth making 12 appearances and was a source of angst for Melbourne Victory in Monday night's goalless draw.
Ma's form has attracted the interest of Liaoning, who are in NSW for a preseason training camp with recently signed Socceroo Robbie Kruse and former Adelaide midfielder James Holland.
The Chinese side were beaten 2-1 by NPL Northern NSW side Broadmeadow Magic in a friendly in Newcastle hours before the Jets played the Victory at McDonald Jones Stadium.
Liaoning have until the Chinese transfer window shuts at the end of February to make a bid for Ma, though Jets chief executive Lawrie McKinna believed it unlikely to eventuate.
"Some interest in Leilei [sic] but nothing concrete I don't think we will get an offer," McKinna tweeted in reply to a fan's inquiry late on Sunday night.
It came as the Jets outplayed second-placed Victory in the goalless draw to squeeze back into the top six and remain firmly in the hunt to make the finals for the first time in seven seasons.
The only thing missing was a goal despite 18 shots to their visitors' nine.
Jones was delighted with the display a week after a disappointing away loss to Perth.
"We wanted to play a high-intensity game, we wanted to counter and to press," Jones said.
"We had more chances, more crosses, equal possession against a very good team.
"We weren't scared of them and we wanted to make a statement."