Yesterday Ryu Seung-Woo spoke to the media before departing for Germany to meet up with his new teammates at Bayer Leverkusen. He was quite forthcoming about his reasonings, even if his answers were not quite satisfactory from my perspective.
I’ve been holding my tongue a bit on the whole Ryu Seung-Woo deal for a bit, just because I felt like I would be too negative about his decisions. But, I just can’t hold it in any longer!
Ryu said that the move was long in the making, with him and Leverkusen negotiating the move for months. He denied the idea that it was a planned move, to sign with Jeju and then immediately go to a European club (to avoid the 5-year domestic ban), but his reasoning was insufficient (against for me). Ryu claimed that he had almost agreed a deal to sign with Jeju in November (and there were reports to back up that claim), but he goes on to say that he was also talking with Leverkusen at that time as well. AND that eventually, after signing with Jeju, they agreed to loan him. I still believe that Ryu had intentions to go to Europe all the time, and he is using Jeju as a way to get around the 5-year ban. Now, this isn’t a bad thing per se. Ryu very possibly could fail to make the grade at Leverkusen and need a back up plan. Being able to go back to Jeju isn’t a terrible plan B. He gamed the system, good for him.
That being said, I also continue to wonder about Ryu’s mindset and whether he really is ready to step into a big club set up. Ryu said, “The reason I decided to play with Leverkusen was because it was a one-year loan offer. It gives less pressure to a player my age.” That’s true, if he doesn’t care about not succeeding. There’s little pressure if Ryu thinks that it’s perfectly fine if I can’t cut it here, I can go back to Korea and Jeju. However, if he does want to be a success at Bayer (and Europe) then there’s more pressure since he has a finite amount of time to develop/show that he is good enough.
Which brings us back to that concern, one which was raised in the summer when the Dortmund offer came around. Does Ryu have the mental strength to be successful? Does he have the drive and desire to succeed in the cutthroat world of European football? One of Ryu’s former coaches (I think his high school coach) said that if Ryu wasn’t ready to take the offer (from Dortmund) then he should quit playing football because he didn’t have the right mindset. [for the record the coach took back that statement later claiming the party line that the money was too low].
I do want Ryu to be a success in Europe, but everything he says and does makes me doubt him. It didn’t make as big a headline as the Dortmund offer, but Ryu also turned down an offer to join Real Madrid Castilla (Madrid’s B team). La fabrica isn’t as well-known as La Masia for turning out youth players, but it’s not too shabby either. Ryu certainly would have a shot at playing time there as Castilla’s two prominent youth attackers, Jese and Alvaro Morata, have been promoted to the first team, leaving Castilla woefully short on strikers. Surely if Ryu had the “strong desire to play in a European league” as the Jeju United spokesman said, he would have taken the opportunity to play for a club as well known for youth development as Dortmund, or as big as Real Madrid.
I suppose only time will tell for Ryu whether this is a good move or not.
Good/Bad News for Kim Bo-Kyung and Cardiff City
Cardiff currently sits in 15th place, just four points clear of relegation. Last weekend after their narrow 1-0 win over fellow strugglers West Brom Albion, manager Malky Mackay did what many managers are doing now, make a public plea for money to spend in the January transfer window. Mackay said he wanted to add three quality players to the team, one for each area. Today Mackay was very openly slapped back by owner Vincent Tan. In a statement, Tan was said to be “extremely upset to read quotes from the manager concerning the possibility of new recruits, before he had been informed whether funds would be made available,” and that, “not a single penny will be made available in January.” Not much wiggle room there. Bad news for Cardiff who face a difficult task this coming weekend when they head to Anfield to take on Luis Suarez and Liverpool.
The news will likely throw more fuel onto the “will Mackay leave Cardiff” fire that’s been burning since his trusted assistant Iain Moody was removed. The only positive for the club is that Crystal Palace, Fulham, and Sunderland have generally been so inept this season, all three are likely relegation fodder. I suppose in some ways, it’s also good news for Kim Bo-Kyung, who has experienced an increase in bench warming time as of late. No new competition coming in for his spot.
UCL Round of 16 Draw
I think this probably fits better into a general news post then getting it’s own, so if you missed it. The Champions League round of 16 draw was held earlier. Bayer Leverkusen got a tricky, tricky task of taking on star-studded PSG. Other ties of note included Barcelona-Manchester City and Chelsea-Galatasaray. All the other big teams managed to stay away from each other (cue claims of UEFA fixing the draw).
Guangzhou Evergrande vs Bayern Munich
Tomorrow comes potentially Guangzhou’s biggest match of the year. The Club World Cup semifinal match against European champions Bayern Munich. No one expects Guangzhou to win, or really even come close to threatening to do so. But, a solid showing against Pep Guardiola’s side could potentially change how the west sees Asian club football. It could also serve as a potential audition for many of Guangzhou’s key players, including one Kim Young-Gwon. Acquit himself well tomorrow against Bayern’s deadly attack and some inquiries by teams looking to strengthen the backline in January could be made.
It seems like Korean players piss their pants when a big club comes in with an offer. Leverkusen are by no means not a top club in the bundesliga (augsburg are fighting for europa spot for crying out loud.) but leverkusen are little bitches in the grand scheme of things.
I think that’s generally true for Asia in general. Other than Park Ji-Sung/Park Chu-Young and Shinji Kagawa no Asian has really gone to a “big club” in the grand scheme of things. You could make an argument for Nagatomo at Inter and Honda at Milan, but both of those clubs are struggling, and would be fortunate to get Europa League football at the moment.