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Alarm bells sounding for Everton

Everton
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By ESPN Staff

China's 'Beckham' latest Roar casualty

The man known as "China's David Beckham" - international striker Yuning Zhang - is the latest big name casualty at A-League club Queensland Roar.

Zhang's contract was terminated in another sign reputations count for little under new coach Frank Farina during his off-season cull after Queensland missed a maiden A-League finals berth on goal difference.

Zhang may have been a superstar in his homeland but the 29-year-old hardly turned heads in his debut A-League season, failing to notch a goal in two starts and four games off the bench.

His departure follows the likes of inaugural Roar captain Chad Gibson and Swiss import Remo Buess who were cut last week in the fallout over yet another failed top four campaign by Queensland.

The bloodletting may not end there.

Of the other six players off contract, only three are expected to remain - Matt McKay, Spase Dilevski and Massimo Murdocca.

Zhang's departure marks a spectacular fall from grace for the 187cm, 83kg international who arrived with much fanfare last August after completing his move from top Chinese outfit Shanghai Shenhua.

His contract was due to expire on February 28 but left early "by mutual consent", according to Roar chief executive Lawrence Oudendyk.

He will return to China on February 5 in a bid to reignite his career in the Chinese league which starts in March.

"Zhang is a player with undoubted ability and he showed glimpses of his quality when he played," Oudendyk said.

"However, there are major differences between the Chinese leagues and the A-League and it is fair to say that for one reason or another he has struggled to make an impact."

Zhang was recruited by then Roar coach Miron Bleiberg who surprisingly resigned in November after mounting speculation that he would be replaced by Farina.

Besides injury problems, Zhang's A-League debut season was also disrupted by his wedding in China in September.

Meanwhile, cut defender Buess said the new rules restricting A-League clubs to four foreign players would make it tough for him to remain in the competition.

Buess was expected to begin talks with New Zealand Knights but the Swiss international was not confident of playing again in the A-League.

"It will be hard for me to sign in Australia with the new rules for four foreign players per squad especially because I'm a defender," he said.

"Clubs will probably be keener to sign strikers and midfielders to fill the foreign spots rather than defenders and there are already a lot of good Australian defenders."