New Zealand striker Shane Smeltz has walked out on Chinese club Shandong Luneng after only one week and is on his way back to the A-League, an Australian newspaper reported today.
The Gold Coast Bulletin reported that Smeltz had decided that it would be too difficult for his wife and two children to settle in Jinan, 400 kilometres south of Beijing, and will instead rejoin Gold Coast United. Smeltz is due back on the Gold Coast on Saturday and will be available to line-up for Gold Coast United in their A League season-opener against Brisbane Roar on 8 August.
A Football Federation Australia official reportedly said that as Smeltz's International Transfer Clearance form was never dispatched by United, he was free to rejoin the Gold Coast club.
Gold Coast's owner, mining magnate Clive Palmer, confirmed to the newspaper that Smeltz, the A-League's leading goal scorer for two consecutive years, was returning. "There has been an issue for Shane there and he's coming home." Palmer said.
"We are hopeful of retaining him for the coming season and we'll have to wait and see what transpires. As things stand we don't believe we have transferred him and it doesn't look like we will be either."