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West Brom owner Guochuan Lai flies in for shock Albion visit

Owner Guochuan Lai made a shock return to Albion today – with the businessman holding meetings with head coach Valerien Ismael and other senior staff about how he plans to take the club forward.

Valerien Ismael gives a bench coat to West Brom owner Guochuan Lai. Photo: Adam Fradgley/West Bromwich Albion FC via Getty Images
Valerien Ismael gives a bench coat to West Brom owner Guochuan Lai. Photo: Adam Fradgley/West Bromwich Albion FC via Getty Images

The entrepreneur has been absent from The Hawthorns for the past three years – with the day-to-day running of the club left to chief executive Xu Ke – who is known as Ken – and chairman Li Piyue.

Lai, who bought the Baggies in a £200million deal from Jeremy Peace in July 2016, is known to want to sell the club.

And that desire to sell combined with his apparent lack of interest led to fans fearing for the future while he remained Albion’s controlling shareholder.

Now, though, Lai has started the process of reintegrating himself back into the club.

He held a positive 45 minute talk with Ismael about the future of the club and the January transfer window.

He also discussed the academy with the head coach.

After spending time with the players, Lai then headed to The Hawthorns to hold meetings and have lunch with other senior staff.

It is understood the Chinese businessman will not be at Albion’s game at Barnsley on Friday.

But he is planning to attend a game this season – likely to be in the spring.

Lai has gone to extraordinary lengths to return to the club.

He spent 10 days quarantining in England.

And when he returns to his home city of Guangzhou, he will undergo a 28 day quarantine process.

Lai will first will have to spend 14 days in a quarantine hotel.

He will then spend seven days at home without departing.

For the final seven days he will be allowed out, but only after posting a daily negative Covid test.

It is believed Lai does still want to sell Albion.

But it's likely feel feels a sale is unlikely in the next few years so will reintegrate himself back into the club to give the Baggies the best chance of returning to the Premier League.

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