Espanyol's Wu hoping to raise profile of Chinese football

New Espanyol signing Wu Lei said on Tuesday that he wants to show the football world that there are Chinese players "capable of shining" at the highest level.

The China striker said he is confident he can thrive in Spain after finishing as the Chinese Super League's top goalscorer last season.

"Pressure is my driving force, it's what pushes me forward," he said the day after joining La Liga strugglers Espanyol.

"I want to show fans around the world that there are players in China who can shine in the best leagues in the world."

Wu scored twice at the recent Asian Cup where his team were knocked out by Iran in the quarter-finals -- a defeat which spelled the end of former Italy boss Marcello Lippi's stint as coach.

The 27-year-old, dubbed the "Chinese Maradona" as a youngster, netted 27 times in the Chinese top flight last term, outshining foreign stars such as SIPG teammate Hulk and former Watford striker Odion Ighalo.

"Coming to Europe has always been by wish, and today, at this age, I think I have the maturity to take on this challenge," said Wu.

"La Liga is one of the best leagues in the world."

Espanyol have been in free-fall in La Liga after sitting second in the table as recently as November, losing nine of their last 10 league matches to slip to 15th.

But Wu is hopeful he can help the Catalan side turn around their fortunes.

"The pace of the competition is an important factor but I think I'm ready," he added.

"The Chinese league in recent years has started to integrate foreign players who have increased the standard. But, I do think there is a big difference in terms of pace of play between China and Europe."

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