A Chinese football international with first division club Dalian Shide was badly wounded in a knife attack by two unidentified assailants.
Midfielder Quan Lei, 21, also a member of China's Olympic team, was stabbed at least eight times in the attack and needed life-saving surgery in hospital, the Beijing News said Friday.
The attack took place late Thursday as Quan was returning home from an evening training session.
The newspaper said nothing had been taken from the player, ruling out robbery as a motive.
It also said it was unlikely the attack was linked to match-fixing, a common problem in China's professional football league, which is the focus of heavy betting.