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China's soccer exports face uncertain future
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Chinese soccer fans have had a lot of reasons to cheer their English league exports, Sun Jihai and Zheng Zhi, but now they also have good reason to be concerned.

The Daily Mirror reported last week Premier League club Manchester City midfielder Sun is set to leave at the end of the season, which has stirred displeasure among Chinese media and fans, as Sun was thought to have been the country's most successful player in overseas leagues.

"Manchester City are losing Chinese star Sun Jihai, 30, at the end of the season. Versatile Jihai has been told he won't be getting a new contract and has opened talks with clubs in the Premier League and Championship," the report said.

"He wants to stay in the north west and hopes to sort out a deal quickly."

Sun's fellow international midfielder Zheng Zhi, meanwhile, also has an uncertain future at English Championship's Charlton Athletic, after Zheng and his teammates failed to gain promotion to the Premiership.

Though Sun is likely to leave City, he was included in the starting line-up by manager Sven-Goran Eriksson for its weekend match against Liverpool. He was impressive in defense against the Reds, though City lost 1-0.

This match was his 150th for the club since he joined in February 2002, from domestic league champion Dalian. Sun is the only player from five years ago, with center back Richard Dunne, who is still in the team.

Sun is uncertain about his future but denied the report that he will leave.

"No one from the club told me or my agent that the club would not extent the contract. So, before the final decision is announced, nothing is guaranteed."

The first Chinese player to score a goal in England's top flight league and the UEFA Cup, Sun is confident he is still in his prime, aged 30.

"Six years and 150 matches. How could you have such a record if you have no ability? I am only 30 and I feel I'm still at my best."

Sun admitted he would prefer to remain at City.

"It's for sure that I have become emotionally linked to the city. And I've got used to everything here. My first choice is to stay at Manchester City."

Even so, he added, he is not concerned about his career direction, as there are other clubs showing an interest in him.

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