Sarpong completes record move to China

Michael Sarpong, 23, was the club’s top-scorer with 16 goals as Rayon Sports lifted their ninth league title last season. File

Rayon Sports striker Michael Sarpong is officially the most expensive footballer to ever be signed from the Rwanda Premier League after completing his move with Chinese second-tier side Changchun Yatai.

The Ghana-born striker, who traveled to China on Thursday, was signed from the Blues at a reported fee of $650,000, of which $150,000 (about Rwf139 million) went to the current Rayon.

Speaking to Times Sport before flying to China, Sarpong said that he was ‘very challenged and excited’ for the move and looked forward to taking his football to a higher level. 

“It still feels like a dream. I enjoyed my football with Rayon and I scored a lot of goals, but I’m also happy for this step forward in my career,” said Sarpong, adding that he hoped to keep his fine scoring form that characterised him during his season-and-a-half with Rayon.

However, he also admitted: “It’s a big challenge for me. There is a big difference between the two sides, but  I am confident I will adapt quickly and do all I can to contribute to my club’s success. I want to show the management that their faith in me was not a waste of time and resources.”

Among other achievements, Sarpong, 23, departs Rayon after playing a pivotal role in their campaign to the 2018/2019 league title where he was the club’s top-scorer with 16 goals. 

“It is a pleasure for me to play overseas. I have been waiting and ready for such an opportunity for a long time. It might be difficult in the first few days but I know I will deliver,” he further noted.

It is expected that Sarpong, who had joined Rayon in September 2018, will be replaced by the recently acquired loan signing Ernest Sugira. The latter will partner with Yannick Bizimana upfront. 

Until Sarpong’s transfer to China, former APR forward Muhadjiri Hakizimana held the record of the most expensive player from the local topflight league following his $300,000 move to Emirates FC in the United Arab Emirates last year. 

After the 2019-20 league’s first-half, of 15 match rounds, Rayon are third with 31 points, six behind leaders APR and a solitary point adrift of second-placed Police.

pkamasa@newtimesrwanda.com

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