Hey hey it’s time for a Tavern kickaround of the latest scraps of Korean football news that have come up in the last little while. In the headlines is Lee Seungwoo after an interesting interview on Joongang Ilbo. And we’ll also check in on Son, Ki and Chungy after 2 out of the 3 got to play their team’s first fixtures of the new year (but how did they do?). Also a look at the second most expensive paid Korean footballer in history – it may not be who you think!
Lee Seungwoo talks about his future at Barca
18 year-old Korean sensation Lee Seungwoo’s name was making the rounds in Korean media recently after an interview with JoongAng Ilbo. In it he talked about why he hasn’t pushed for a move outside of Barcelona or up in the Barca youth ranks (to Barca B from Juvenil A).
“We have 3 competitions this season in Juvenil A. I had 4-5 oppotunities to join Barca B, but I decided to stay at Juvenil A after talking to my coach. I know I could play 30-40 minutes per game for Barca B, but it’s better to play the full game here. I will go to Barca B next season.” -Lee Seungwoo
And that’s technically true. Sport.com reported that per his contract, he will play next season in Barca B, and his release clause will also multiply fourfold (from 3 million euros to 12 million euros). That said, Lee has also not been a regular for Juvenil A and reportedly would get very few minutes next season if he were to move up to Barca B. The main issue with his development has been what we know to be his greatest letdown so far – his physicality, or lack thereof. All of this could well change, but that is what this article is opining.
“Aside from having missed so much competitive football due to FIFA’s transfer ban, Lee is showing another handicap physically: he suffers a lot when going body-to-body with his rivals and this problem would be multiplied in Segunda B (or in La Liga 1,2,3 in the case Barça B get promoted).”
Lee, however, doesn’t seem too worried despite his slight build:
“The DNA of Barcelona is possession. We have to dominate the game no matter who we play. That requires brains, skill and judgement. If Barcelona would prefer a physically bigger player, I would have been sold. All I think about is how to be faster.” -Lee Seungwoo
Although the article at Sport.com and other people more in the know are now suggesting that Lee could be loaned out to a club in the Bundesliga or Eredivisie next season so that he can play first team minutes and develop his physicality, though there seems to be hesitance on Lee’s part and worries that he won’t be wanted back after said loan.
“I know I can play in the first team if I choose another club and I have received such offers. But my dream is to play for Barcelona, which is the best club in the world. Only that will make me the best player in the world.” -Lee Seungwoo
Is Lee Seungwoo trying to shut down a loan move even if that may be what his entourage prefers? Is it a classic case of an overconfident player refusing to accept what his club thinks is best for his development? I wouldn’t read too much into it for now. Patience is the name of the game with young players, and doubly so when they were banned by FIFA.
Oh, and if you thought this title was clickbait (50/50 it was, my bad), these guys are much worse: South Korean superkid wants to leave Barcelona. WTF?! Head up your ass, much?!
Yeah, it was a pretty boring midweek for KPA’s.
Player, Team, Oppo, Score, Notes
Lee Chungyong, Palace, v Swansea, 1-2 L, bench
Ki Sungyueng, Swansea, @ Palace, 2-1 W, full 90
Son Heungmin, Spurs, v Chelski, 2-0 W, garbage time (on at 92′)
Ki was the only player of the midweek fixtures to actually do anything. Starting in the Swans’ first game in front of their new manager, Paul Clement (formerly assistant boss at Bayern Munich), Ki had a slighty-above-average outing, starting in a 4-3-3 with a holding midfield trio of Fulton-Ki-Cork. And although early on they did dictate possession, Palace came out flying in the second half and the midfield’s collective impact kind of vanished. It’s the erosion of their “hipster” identity of possession football that’s ultimately come back to bite them. Ki himself had a more fluid role, sometimes dictating play as more of a CDM, sometimes drifting up to be the second-highest or highest man on the pitch as a CAM. No direct bite, though he came close from a corner kick and his run led to a free kick that was Swansea’s first goal.
Post game remarks:
“We showed a much better attitude after conceding compared to recent games. Defensively, as a team, we were more solid and the character was great. It was the character and attitude of the team that helped us win this game.”
Lee seemed like he would make a cameo appearance when Palace were struggling and Allardyce had him warm up, but that was before the momentum leading up to Wilfried Zaha’s brilliant strike happened. He ultimately didn’t come on.
Son got garbage minutes as the Spurs carbon copied Conte’s 3-4-3 and score two carbon copy goals – Eriksen’s cross finding Dele Alli’s header in the box. A crucial 2-0 win for Tottenham to halt Chelsea’s winning streak run one short of the Premier League record. Spurs go third. Is it worrying that Son didn’t get a start in this vital game? Sure. But then again, he didn’t deserve to start. Son’s form tends to oscillate though apart from that huge Swansea game he’s been in a bit of a lull since September. Hopefully that will soon change.
Kwon Kyungwon goes to China
24 year-old Kwon Kyungwon is on his way to China. After leaving Jeonbuk Hyundai two seasons ago for the UAE, having caught the eye of Al-Ahli’s scouts during Jeonbuk’s Dubai training camp, the young defensive midfielder/centreback flourished, being a key part to a league title as well as scoring the 2015 ACL semi-final winning goal. He will start next season among the ranks of Tianjin Quanjian, a Chinese club who has also just signed Axel Witsel.
What’s really surprising is his transfer fee – 10 million euros. That’s 11 million USD!!! He becomes the second most expensive South Korean footballer with that move, bested only by Ki Sungyueng (31.58 million USD). His yearly salary will be 3 million USD. Overpaid? Sure, but that’s how China works these days. And given the success of Korean players in the CSL (from a Chinese PoV) this is a decent move for them. Bringing him closer to home could also be what he needs to accomplish his latest dream:
I am so happy that I can be a child that makes his parents proud. One day, I want to realize my dream of playing for the national team. -Kwon Kyungwon
Well, given our predominantly China-based defense, what’s one more China-based player in the mix? I mean if Jung Wooyoung is NT quality…
Suk Hyunjun’s contract terminated?
After moving from Porto to Turkey’s Trabzonspor last summer, Suk Hyunjun has played very little this season, making just five starts and scoring no goals. Turkish media is suggesting that his contract will be prematurely terminated. Jeju United are rumoured to be looking into the player.
According to Turkish media, Trabzonspor are set to terminated a contract of Suk Hyun-jun prematurely who is on loan from FC Porto.
— Korea Football News (@KORFootballNews) January 3, 2017
Upcoming fixtures for U-20s
Shin Taeyong’s U-20 side will take part in a training camp in Portugal later this month for 3 weeks. Of note, they will play a friendly against Portugal U-20 on January 25th. They will play up to 5 games, though players like Lee Seungwoo and Paik Seungho will of course not be leaving Barcelona’s youth ranks. (via Jitevra on BigSoccer Forums).
Jinseok interrupts: but wait! Minutes after Tim posted this the U20 roster came out for the Portugal camp… and all 3 Barca kids have been called up. There are no big suprises in this roster at all. One of the fixtures has been revealed to be Sporting B. The rest will be revealed eventually.
K League transfers
A whole lot’s been happening. We’ll update you on it properly in a separate post for those who like this stuff. Just important to note that Jeonbuk’s best player (imo) Leonardo is gone to Al-Ahli, Kwon Changhoon hasn’t received any new offers from Europe, neither has Lee Jaesung and rumours that Daejeon’s teenage playmaker talent Hwang Inbeom could soon be completing a move to big teams in the K League (Seoul is the most likely destination, though Jeonbuk could also be in the mix).