Neymar joined Saudi Arabian club Al-Hilal on Saturday, shaking up the European soccer market. Before Neymar, Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, N’Golo Kante, Fabinho, Riyad Mahrez, and Sadio Mane moved to the Saudi Arabian league, and the ‘God of Football’ Lionel Messi is also playing in the United States. As more and more world-class soccer stars move to European soccer leagues, Korean soccer stars are expected to attract more attention.
■Chuncheon duo sprain in opening match… Expect to regain honor this season
Chuncheon duo Son Heung-min (Tottenham) and Hwang Hee-chan (Wolverhampton), who play in the English Premier League (EPL), have not had a good opening season. Son’s club, Tottenham, drew 2-2 with Brentford in the first round of the 2023-2024 EPL on Nov. 13 at the G-Tech Community Stadium in Brentford, England. Son was named captain of Tottenham this season, becoming the second South Korean player to wear the captain’s armband on an EPL pitch after Park Ji-Sung of Queens Park Rangers (QPR). However, Son had a less than stellar captaincy debut. After a spirited defensive effort midway through the first half with his team up 1-0, he conceded the penalty that tied the game. South Korean international striker Hwang Hee-chan also took the field in the EPL’s new season opener, but was unable to prevent his club from losing. Wolverhampton lost 0-1 to Manchester United in the first round of the EPL on Sept. 15 at Old Trafford in Manchester, England.
The Chuncheon duo are desperate to redeem themselves this season after suffering injuries last year. Son Heung-min’s performance last season was not as good as it could have been due to a combination of injuries, including an orbital fracture. The pain of a sports hernia also plagued him. At the age of 31, Son is a seasoned veteran and will need to show that he hasn’t lost his goal-scoring touch this season. Hwang “Bull” Hee-chan, who missed a lot of time last season due to a thigh injury, has also been on fire in the preseason and will be hoping to return to form.
Munich’s Kim Min-jae-PSG’s Lee Kang-in ‘big club’ Korean leaguer in the spotlight
Lee Kang-in is looking to fill the void left by Neymar’s departure and solidify his place in the team. Lee started the opening Ligue 1 match of the 2023-2024 season between PSG and Lorient at the Parc des Princes in Paris, France, on Sept. 13 and played 82 minutes, including 37 minutes in the second half. Lee was all over the pitch and had a passable debut. While he didn’t create any offense, he did showcase his long passing and breakaway ability. He was also responsible for taking corners and free kicks.
Kim Min-jae, a “monster defender” who wears the jersey of German professional soccer’s prestigious Bayern Munich, also came on as a second-half substitute in the 2023 German Football League (DFL) Super Cup match against RB Leipzig at the Allianz Arena in Munich, Germany. Although he was unable to prevent his team from losing, he made a neat tackle on the ground to prevent further goals. His performance was recognized by soccer statistics site Footmob, which gave him a 6.5 rating, the fifth-highest among Munich players.
Newcomers Cho Kyu-sung and Yang Hyun-joon are also expected to play well
Korean soccer stars who played in the K League 1 are also establishing themselves in Europe by getting regular playing time.
Cho Kyu-sung (Meatwillan), who made his debut in the Danish professional soccer Superliga, failed to score in the opening four games due to a missed penalty kick in the fourth round of the 2023-2024 Danish Superliga against Vejle BK at Vejle Stadium in Vejle, Denmark, on the 13th, but he has continued to make appearances from the opening game and has established himself in the team.
Yang Hyun-joon, who recently joined Scottish professional soccer’s Celtic from Gangwon FC, also recorded his first offensive point in just two official matches since arriving in Europe. After coming on as a substitute in the opening two games of the regular season, he recorded an assist and caught the eye of Brendan Rodgers. 파워볼사이트