Phoenix chase Chinese star

Wellington Phoenix chief executive Tony Pignata is confident a loan deal can be finalised to bring Chinese Under-23 star Jiang Chen to the New Zealand capital.

Wellington Phoenix chief executive Tony Pignata is confident a loan deal can be finalised to bring Chinese Under-23 star Jiang Chen to the New Zealand capital.

The Phoenix and Chen's club Tianjin Teda remain in negotiations for the striker, who trialled with the Hyundai A-League side against Chinese Super League team Guangzhou Pharmaceuticals during the Phoenix's recent pre-season tour.

"It's just finalising a few minor details on contractual issues. We're quite confident we'll be able to get him across," Pignata said.

"We're just doing all the documentation and final negotiations. I'm hoping to hear back some time next week with a view to getting Jiang Chen out later next week or earlier the following week."

While the Phoenix drew 2-2 against Tianjin Teda and went down to a late free-kick in its 3-2 loss to Guangzhou, Pignata said the tour had been a success for the club both on and off the field.

"It's great for us to be able to set up some relationships like the one with Tianjin. They really looked after us when we were over in China," he said.

"They've got a great facility and who knows we may be able to loan some players on our off-season as well and set up some sort of club relationship."

He continued: "We got two quality games in extreme heat which will really help us when we go over to Australia."

"The other thing was to get the Phoenix brand out in the Chinese football market as well."

With the start of the Hyundai A-League just days away Pignata has made it clear that reaching the play-offs is the minimum he expects from a club in its third season in the competition.

"The first year was just getting the club together. I think we took a step up last year and this season is about now making the play-offs," he said.

"It's also about getting respect. It's one thing I've said - we don't get respected by the other clubs and especially the Australian media and football community as well."

"We've just been busy getting ready over here in New Zealand. We haven't had much fanfare and that's what we like."

"Last year we made the Grand Final of the Pre-Season Cup. This year we're just going about what we need to do and I think we'll be very competitive and we're going to show that we're not going to be taken lightly this year."

The Phoenix kicks off its season against the Jets in Newcastle on August 9.