So much is happening in the world of Korean football right now. Lee Kang In appears set to move to PSG, I’m behind on my Kim Min Jae post and my U20 World Cup recap, the Peru match is upcoming, and now there’s two more news items that I need to write about prior to those. We will start with the first one here: Seongnam FC has confirmed that Kim Ji Soo will move to Brentford.
It seems like the English media hasn’t caught word of this just yet, but an official statement from the mayor of Seongnam (essentially the owner/chairman of Seongnam FC) Shin Sang Jin states that Kim Ji Soo will fly out to England next week to finalize signing for Brentford FC.
A very loose translation: “Poongsaeng High School graduate Seongnam FC’s Kim Ji Soo met with the owner of the club and mayor of Seongnam [the same person – he’s referring to himsef] after returning from Argentina having made it to the semifinals of the 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup. Next week, Kim Ji Soo will depart Korea to sign for Brentford, a team in England’s top division the EPL (England Premere League). [sic] Although it will be hard to see him again going forward, we will pray for and hope that he can achieve greater heights, avoid injury, and bring joy to football fans by as a world class player from Seongnam and Korea Republic.”
For those who have been living under a rock for the past year or are not Korean / unfamiliar with Korean football, Kim Ji Soo is a 18 year old 190 cm center-back who has really impressed for Seongnam FC. Reports came out earlier this season about Bayern Munich being interested in him, but soon after Brentford were reported to be seriously interested in Kim Ji Soo as well (this article from the Daily Mail was definitely not the first to report on the rumor, but it’s the one I could find most readily right now). He cemented his status as an elite center-back talent at the recent 2023 U20 World Cup, where Kim Ji Soo was at the center of an incredible Korean defense that led them to the semifinals. Kim Ji Soo was arguably our MVP and best player – he was certainly our most consistent (other candidates would include Bae Jun Ho, fellow CB Choi Seok Hyun, and captain + Bronze Ball winner Lee Seung Won).
Now the work visa is a bit of a challenge in England. I pulled the below photo straight from claims.co.uk, so I figure these are the most up to date rules, though there seems to be a new revision that is cited here by Spotv.
Kim Ji-soo is getting closer to the Premier League with a recently revised work permit. The England Football Association (FA) has amended the work permit rules to widen the door for overseas players to enter England. According to the original regulations, it is difficult for Kim Ji-soo, who has not even debuted in the Korean national team, to get a work permit. However, with the recent revision, even players who are not subject to the existing work permit can recruit only 4 players in the Premier League and Championship (second division) and 2 players in League 1 and League 2.http://www.spotvnews.com/news/articleView.html?idxno=53589
Kim Ji Soo is 18 years old right now and doesn’t have any senior caps. I don’t know if Brentford has room for him among the 4 players not subject to this work permit (though I’d imagine they would use this option). Where would he go if not the first team? One option that has been floated in the media is the possibility of going on loan to Danish club Midtjylland. Brentford and Midtjylland share the same owner, and Midtjylland plays in the Europa League which would be nice. He could also play for Brentford’s B team, or maybe he could go back on loan to Seongnam to get more K League minutes under his belt.
6/15 update: it seems that Brentford B is the most likely starting destination. Also according to Korean media, it sounds like both sides (Kim Ji Soo and Brentford) are confident that the work permit issue will be resolved by the time of his signing.
Somehow, the CB position became one of our strongest. Outside of Kim Min Jae, Kim Ji Soo and Lee Han Beom look like truly elite talents who could thrive in Europe’s top leagues. I have no doubt that after a season or two of acclimating to European football, Kim Ji Soo could make it as a starting CB for a strong EPL side.