The 29-year-old was available under freedom of contract after his contract with Charlton Athletic expired this summer.

The formalities can be completed outside of the transfer window but Tony Mowbray, the Celtic manager, is confident that the player’s versatility will make him an invaluable addition to his squad.

Zheng has made his reputation as a central midfielder but can also play up front. His arrival will offset the departure of Massimo Donati to Bari.

Mowbray tried to sign him last summer for West Bromwich Albion. The player moved to British football when he joined Charlton in December 2006 from Shenzhen Jianlibao. He scored nine goals in 63 games for the London club.

Mowbray said: “Zheng Zhi is a player I have tracked for some time. He is a highly-regarded player and was a thorn in our side when he played against us at West Bromwich Albion. I am delighted that he may join us. He will significantly add to the squad with his quality and the fact that he can play in a number of positions.We now need to tie up loose ends and obtain a work permit, which we hope to do before our next game.”