Former Arsenal youngster Nico Yennaris changes his name to Li Ke in bid for China call-up

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The midfielder, who was born in east London, played with Harry Kane in the Arsenal academy and is hoping to help China reach the Qatar World Cup in 2022

Former Arsenal midfielder Nico Yennaris has changed his name to Li Ke as he bids to receive a call-up to the China national team.

The 25-year-old, who was born in east London, played in the Gunners youth teams in 2001 and even featured alongside Harry Kane before the Spurs ace was released by the club.

Yennaris is hoping to get a call-up to the Chinese national team

Yennaris is hoping to get a call-up to the Chinese national team

Yennaris made his way through the ranks and made his debut for the north London side against Manchester United in 2012.

However, he failed to make himself a mainstay in Arsene Wenger’s line-up and eventually left for Brentford.

In January, Chinese Super League side Beijing Guoan sealed a £5million deal for the playmaker and he has since learnt the language and even memorised the national anthem.

He is aiming to help China qualify for the World Cup in Qatar in 2022 and is eligible for a call-up after being granted citizenship, despite featuring for English youth sides in the past.

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Yennaris became the first naturalised player to score in the Chinese top-flight after netting in his side’s 2-1 victory over HN Jianye last week.

Speaking to the state television in China, he said: “It’s the first in history so it’s something that I can be proud of.

“I hope to help Chinese football and hopefully one day I can play in the national team as well and we will try to get to a World Cup.”

Yennaris also told the Daily Mail he has kept in touch with Kane in recent years, saying: “When we see each other face to face and bump into each other we say ‘hello’ and we always speak.”

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