METZ, France (AFP) - Chinese midfielder Yi Teng has signed a year-long training contract with French second division side Metz, the club said on Friday.
The 19-year-old's arrival represents the first fruits of a partnership between Metz and the Chinese province of Chengdu that was established in 2005.
The partnership was set up to aid the creation of a football centre in the province but also involves players from the region near Tibet travelling to France to train.
Yi Teng first came to this eastern city two years ago for a training camp. He was watched by Metz's management the year after in a friendly in Chengdu before being invited to join the club for a season.
He follows in the footsteps of forward Li Jin Yu, who became the first professional Chinese footballer to play in France when he joined Nancy in 1998.
The defensive midfielder will be available for selection for Metz's reserve team and could ultimately be awarded a professional contract.
"I'm very happy and I hope to prove myself with the professionals," he said in halting French.
Metz's technical director Joel Muller congratulated the player on his achievement.
"By joining an academy far from home and signing his first contract, Yi Teng has already achieved something great," he said.
"He corresponds perfectly with the club's values and is totally suited to our tradition. Now he needs to toughen up a bit to succeed in the game and become a professional."
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