February 1, 2013
Window closed shut. A confusing, rum and rumor filled day ended with the last 3 possible Korean footballers to get transfers all ended in varying degrees of disappointment.
First, the twittersphere had too-good-to-be-true reports of Lee Chung-Yong appearing at Stoke City’s Britannia Stadium yesterday. Actually, there’s been some conflicting reports as to what exactly happened, but from what we can piece together, Stoke officials were in some negotiations for the Blue Dragon with Bolton, however they couldn’t agree on the transfer fee, with Bolton sticking to a close to £8 million price tag, while Stoke insisted on a figure lower than £5 million. In the end, they negotiations quietly faded with Stoke’s signing of Dallas FC winger Brek Shea. His deal was reportedly for a value price of £2.5 million. Did Lee actually show up at Britannia Stadium? He certainly didn’t pull a Odemwingie (the West Brom man showed up at Loftus Road as part of a mixup/miscommunication and was locked out when a previous deal fell through), so it can be safely labeled as a false twitter report, started possibly ‘telephone game’ style.
Meanwhile, reports of Kim Shin-Wook being wooed by QPR at least had some substance as the towering Ulsan Hyundai forward reportedly rejected a bid by QPR on Wednesday. Everton was another EPL team said to show interest, but ended up not making the leap.
That leaves us with the mystery of what happened to Yoon Bit-Garam and what looked to be a secured deal with Braga for the Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma midfielder. According to Korean media source Daum.net, negotiations broke down in the detail of the transfer fee.
Nevertheless it’s been an busy and fairly productive January window, which saw a number of Koreans moving about the continent. For a quick review, let’s sort out what happened this month:
“…movement for Jah people…” Ji Dong-Won‘s escape from Sunderland has been epic thus far. His secured loan to relegation zoned Augsburg was announced on New Year’s Eve, which was an exciting prospect despite Augsburg’s lowly table status for one reason: a reunion with Taeguk Warrior Olympic medal winning teammate Koo Ja-Cheol. After a few training sessions and exhibition goals, he’s surprised German analysts and along with Koo, seems to have sparked a newly fired up offense. A win against Fortuna Dusseldorf (Ji contributing to Koo’s goal) and an impressive draw with Schalke ’04, Augsburg are on the verge of breaking out of the relegation zone.
Suk Hyun-Jun’s transfer out of FC Groningen to Portugal’s Maritimo looks promising for the forward. He showed promise for Groningen last season (see K-Talk’s revamped blog to see a spectacular exhibition bicycle kick against Sunderland last summer + new post on K-League Classic schedules released and Asian Champions League group previews), but has had a paucity of playing time this season. With the January transfer, it’s likely he will get more playing time and another shot to prove his merits in the continent.
Park Jung-Bin‘s loan transfer to Greuther Furth isn’t exactly an exodus move, but it is a step forward for the former Wolfsburg Youth/Reserve player. The 18 year old made his debut for Greuther Furth in the last minute of a 2-0 loss to Bayern Munich – in which he actually got close to scoring range immediately upon entering the game. Not much is known about the young forward, but in his next game for Greuther Furth, he impressed with his aggressive playing style. His team is still mired in the last place of the Bundesliga.
Kim Kyung-Jun was playing in obscurity for Tallinna FC Olympic in Estonia when Ligue 2 side SM Caen picked him up in mid January. He’s had a few substitute appearances since the transfer.
We reported earlier this week that Kim Min-Kyun successful trial resulted in a 3 year contract for Polish side Jagiellonia Białystok. The former Daegu FC man transfers in from J-League 2 side Fagiano Okayama.
HOME IS WHERE I WANT TO BE
The Tavern can only breath a sigh of relief that Hamburg’s Son Heung-Min didn’t take the bait and get lured to Tottenham. Not that the Spurs are a bad team mind you, but while Son is a star player who is solidly in Hamburg’s starting XI, there’s no guarantee that Son would get consistent playing time if he hopped over to the Spurs. Just ask Clint Dempsey; despite being the 5th best scorer in the Premiership last season for Fulham, has seen his playing time diminished at White Hart Lane.
Jong Tae-Se transferred in mid January from 2.Bundesliga side FC Koln to Suwon Bluewings. It attracted a bit of media attention as he was a star player for the North Korean national team during the 2010 World Cup.
In a bizarre twist for Fortuna Dusseldorf’s Cha Du-Ri, he is likely to make a permanent move to South Korea. Cha cited unspecified personal family issues for staying in South Korea in his decision to not rejoin his team since the end of the winter break. He was granted special permission to sort things out, but that leave expired yesterday -with ESPN FC among other media outlets reporting Cha is still in South Korea. “(Manager) Werner added that if Cha was to find a club in South Korea, then he was free to leave if the offer was right.”
Kim In-Sung was dropped from CSKA Moscow earlier in the month. He may be trying to make his way onto a K-League club.
EAST TO WEST
Yun Suk-Young‘s transfer from Chunnam Dragons to QPR makes him the 11th Korean to ply their trade in the Premiership. It looked like he originally was headed to Fulham, but controversy dogged the negotiations with Fulham angering Korean football fans by insisting on a trial for the Chunnam Dragon left back. Chunnam refused, citing his Olympic winning performance as one example out of many of his worthiness. That may have been a game changer as Yun agreed to a 3 and a half year deal with QPR, despite a last minute matching appeal by Fulham. While terms of the agreement is unknown, the estimated transaction is worth over £1.6 million. Still, fans are scratching their heads, wondering if this was the right move, what with QPR’s dire last place situation. Still QPR wasn’t done as Harry Rednapp’s crazed buying spree was the talk of the football universe, snagging center back Christopher Samba from Anzhi Makhachkala for a staggering £12.5 million, not to mention Andros Townsend and Jermaine Jenas both from Tottenham. Add to that signing Loic Remy’s earlier in the month and Tony Fernandes suddenly turned on the money spigot in an attempt to maneuver the club out of relegation danger. Will it be enough? Stay tuned.
Lee Keun-Ho to Schalke. This is a cruel joke that I write simply to torture myself. No, obviously this transfer didn’t happen, but the Asian Player of the Year, the MVP of the Asian Champions League, the dynamic hero who led Ulsan’s bid to win the Asian Champions League, expressed interest in going to Europe and honestly would have been highly sought after by top flight European clubs – if only that his time was up to do his compulsory military service in the South Korean army. For Lee, it now means joining and playing for Sangju/Army team in the new relegated second division K-League. Not to sound like a broken record, but to sound like a broken record – I’m just telling it as it is: Japan is sending some of their best players to Europe, outpacing Koreans abroad in the continent in sheer numbers, unencumbered with any kind of military compulsory service requirements. Japan’s FIFA ranking (21st) reflects that ambition and drive to one day become a top 10 footballing nation. South Korea was the leading Asian footballing nation, but has fallen behind Japan, evidenced not only by losing twice to Japan in recent years, but to a lesser degree the widening structural gaps between the youth academy systems. More importantly, their European based players are honing skills and taking them back to the service of their national team. That raw numeric advantage is impossible to dismiss, and it’s making a difference. The lack of flexibility in South Korea’s military conscription law is but one of several factors in their lower FIFA ranking (34th). Rankings shouldn’t be the end all-be all, but in this case, it mirrors fairly accurately South Korea’s struggle to be a great football nation, chained to the old school geopolitical realities of being constantly in a state of quasi-war with their neighbor to the north. The simple answer: there is no simple answer, but perhaps if South Korea could somehow allow a fair system of military exemptions given, with the promise that athletes return and serve at age 35 or 36 when their playing days are over (and physical skills are not diminished enough so as to still be active in service for their country). Another post for another time…
The celebrated manager of the hybrid Taeguk Warriors medal winning Olympic squad, Hong Myong-Bo joined FC Anzhi Makhachkala as a assistant coach under Guus Hiddink. Both men will forever be linked with South Korean football lore, with Guus managing the 2002 South Korean side, with Hong as Captain, to the semifinals of the World Cup. Word on the street was the Hong was lining up to be manager of the senior South Korean national team, but Hong wanted to gain additional managerial experience under the tutelage of a man who has already proven his coaching bona fides many times over.
In addition to Lee Chung-Yong, Kim Shin-Wook and Yoon Bit-Garam, we can add these players who have been targeted for European moves, but for one reason or another, decided to stay back in the East. Perhaps in the future, we may see these players take their turn in making the journey to Europe. [we’ll expand on these players later]
Briefly, we’ll wrap up with a listing for games this weekend. All game times are in US Eastern Time, TV broadcast in the US, Internet Streaming should be available worldwide.
England, QPR vs. Norwich City 7:30 a.m. ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, ESPN3.com Park Ji-Sung is not the happiest camper at Loftus Road, especially after getting thrown under the bus last week by Rednapp. ‘arry’s lineup threw together a bizarre roster who haven’t played together in their 4th round FA Cup embarrassing defeat at the hands of the MK Dons. He didn’t get the start last game, but Harry needs everyone to be in top form if they are to escape relegation. New Ranger Yun Suk-Young is not expected to start, as he hasn’t seen action since the K-League wrapped up the season in early December.
Germany, Schalke vs. Greuther Furth 9:30 p.m. No TV/ internet streaming? Park Jung-Bin impressed in his substitute role in their last match. Will he get the start?
Germany, Wolfsburg vs. Augsburg 9:30 p.m. No TV/ internet streaming? Koo Ja-Cheol and Ji Dong-Won: the Korean Duo will try to continue to push Augsburg out of the relegation zone. So far, so good…
Spain, Osasuna vs. Celta Vigo 10 a.m. beIN Sport Spanish. Park Chu-Young 65% chance of starting. Where am I getting that percentage? Not telling.
England, West Ham vs. Swansea City 10 a.m. foxsoccer2go.com (tape at 2 on Fox Soccer Plus) As much as I like seeing Ki on the pitch, shouldn’t Ki Sung-Yeung get some rest to recover from his nasty ankle tackle by Ramires in the League Cup semifinal? I will attempt to send via mental telepathy that message to Michael Ladrup. If that doesn’t work, carrier pigeon is my backup.
England, Leeds United vs. Cardiff City 10 a.m. beIN Sport OMG,OMG,OMG, Cardiff on US broadcast network!? I feel giddy as a schoo—– yeah, maybe I’ll keep that to myself. Anyway, it’s Kim Bo-Kyung time! “Yobo! Where’s my Kim jersey?”
Germany, Hamburg vs. Eintracht Frankfurt 12:30 p.m. GolTV Son Heung-Min scored his 7th goal of the season last weekend, but frankly he should’ve scored two more. The old school Korean parent in me is angry and disappointed about the latter, but the 21st century Korean in me is excited about the goal scored -an epic jaw dropping mouth watering strike. Multiple personality disorder, got to see the Tavern shrink about that.
And looking to Sunday in Portugal, Suk Hyun-Jun and Maritimo will play away at Gil Vicente. Game time 11am. No TV/Internet Streaming?
NOTE: I’m starting a new job on Monday, it could be time intensive — so my posts may get a bit shorter or they’ll be posted with less frequency. Just want to give everybody a heads up. February 6 will be a good test for the Taeguk Warriors, they face Croatia in a friendly at Craven Cottage in London, England. I will try to get a preview of the game out at the very least. Have a great night and a good weekend.