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Wu Lei happy to continue learning as Espanyol eye promotion

Madrid: RCD Espanyol winger Wu Lei is happy to be learning and developing despite experiencing second division football in the Spanish La Liga.

China PR international Wu Lei made his Espanyol debut in 2019 and has lived through the highs and lows as the Barcelona-based outfit qualified for the UEFA Europa League in his first season, only to crash into the La Liga 2 in their last campaign.

Despite their recent struggles, Espanyol are well placed for a speedy return to the top flight as they sit second in the standings on 52 points, two behind RCD Mallorca.

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“I came to study and learn. I want to feel not only Spanish football, but also the culture. In the last two years, I have learned and experienced a lot in both La Liga and La Liga 2," said Wu Lei to Xinhua.

"This season, I have learned about the atmosphere of the second division, with the survival methods of each team, and that has helped me to live in every aspect of Spanish football.

"For that reason, I don't really feel I am missing out after dropping from La Liga to the second division," he explained.

The former Shanghai SIPG star was an instant hit in La Liga in 2019, becoming the first China PR player to score in the Spanish top-flight.

But life in second division football is different for the 29-year-old, who has made 19 appearances for Espanyol in La Liga 2, a stark difference in game time when he was playing top flight football last season.

However, Wu Lei stressed that his main objective is to help Espanyol "return to La Liga and said he had "a lot of confidence" that would happen.

"The key is in me," he said, recalling the start of the coronavirus pandemic in Spain in March 2020 as a "really difficult period".

The player and his family were all infected by the virus and had to spend time in isolation, cut off from contact with friends and teammates.

"To be honest, I had the idea that I should go back to China. But at that time, with the company of my family and so many fans who care about me, our family finally got over it," he said.

"I have always said that the fans are our biggest motivation. Now that no fan can enter the stadium, the whole atmosphere is very different and that has also had a big impact," he commented, before adding that he hoped for an end to the pandemic which would allow "the fans to cheer us in the ground and once again share the joy of victory with us.”

Despite all the setbacks last year, Wu Lei has always believed that his decision to stay in Spain last summer was the right one.

"At my age, adapting to European football and being able to stay here, makes me feel that I should not regret the decision. There are also family reasons. My family is also happy here, so I think I made the right decision."

Sources: Xinhua, AFP

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