Singapore: English Premiership giants Liverpool will kick off an Asian tour next month with their first ever game in China, where they are estimated to have tens of millions of fans, officials said Thursday.
The Reds, who visited Thailand and Singapore two years ago, will play a friendly against Guangdong Sunray Cave in the southern metropolis of Guangzhou on July 13, before heading to Malaysia.
"Our football club and the city of Liverpool have great links with China. The city of Liverpool has the oldest Chinese community in Europe," said club managing director Ian Ayre.
"As a global football club, it is important to us that we give our fans in China the chance to see the team in action.
"At Liverpool FC we take these games very seriously. This game will be our first as we kick off our preparations for the 2011/12 campaign."
Liverpool will also play a Malaysian XI in Kuala Lumpur on July 16. Sponsor Standard Chartered said the highly decorated team were estimated to have up to 60 million fans in mainland China alone.
"It is great that we can give our supporters in China and Malaysia the chance to watch the team play," said manager Kenny Dalglish.
"Our last tour of Asia in 2009 was a great success and we're delighted to be returning this summer."
Arsenal, Chelsea, Blackburn and Aston Villa will also visit Asia in July, while Spanish super-club Real Madrid will play two matches in China in August as European teams seek to tap the teeming region's growing wealth.