• The 20-year-old's contract with German club Ingolstadt 04 expires on June 30 and he is likely to move on

Two clubs in mainland China, and reigning Major League Soccer champions Columbus Crew, have joined the chase for Hong Kong's free-agent striker Michael Udebuluzor.

The 20-year-old Udebuluzor's contract with German club Ingolstadt 04 expires on June 30. Back in March, Udebuluzor told the Post he was in a "toxic relationship" with Ingolstadt after "a lot of things changed" following his 2021 arrival.

Udebuluzor, who is in Turkmenistan for a World Cup qualifier with the Hong Kong representative side, nevertheless scored 14 goals from 19 starts for Ingolstadt's second team in 2023-24.

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German second-tier club Greuther Furth remain very keen on Udebuluzor, after the Post initially revealed the Bavarian team's interest back in December.

A well-placed source told the Post that Greuther face competition from at least one 2. Bundesliga rival, in addition to two clubs from the German third division.

The same source disclosed that China League One pair Foshan Nanshi and Wuxi Wugou both want to add Udebuluzor to their squads when the mainland transfer window opens between June 17 and July 15.

The Post has been told that American club Columbus also want to lure Udebuluzor. Head coach Wilfried Nancy's team are seventh in the MLS' Eastern Conference, but have a number of games in hand following their run to the CONCACAF Champions Cup final, which they lost to Mexican side Pachua earlier this month.

Nancy has form in terms of searching outside North America for talent - during his 18 months in charge he has recruited from Croatia, Turkey, Scotland and Israel.

A Stateside move for Udebuluzor would raise the intriguing prospect of sharing a pitch with Lionel Messi when Columbus meet Inter Miami, a privilege that evaded a number of his international colleagues when the Argentina captain sat out an infamous Hong Kong friendly in February.

Should Udebuluzor choose a China League One move, he would come up against his former international coach Jorn Andersen, who recently took charge of table-toppers Yunnan Yukun after quitting as Hong Kong head coach.

Wuxi, 15th in the standings, host Yunnan on September 1, while 14th-placed Foshan go to Yunnan on July 6.

FC Porto had expressed a desire to sign Udebuluzor for their under-21 squad, but the recent departure of first-team head coach Sergio Conceicao altered transfer plans.

Udebuluzor left Hong Kong to board at Germany's DFI Football Academy when he was 14. Last year, he relinquished his Nigerian citizenship to acquire a Hong Kong passport and play for the representative team.

Udebuluzor has two goals from 11 international appearances, following a debut in the 10-0 demolition of Brunei last September, and is pushing to start against Turkmenistan on Tuesday, after playing the final 14 minutes of last Thursday's 4-2 loss to Iran.

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This article originally appeared on the South China Morning Post (, the leading news media reporting on China and Asia.

Copyright (c) 2024. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

2024-06-11T04:16:12Z dg43tfdfdgfd