Tottenham Hotspur of the English Premier League (EPL) are making every effort to delay the call-up of its captain Son Heung-min to the Qatar Asian Cup. The team plans to set aside the first match of the FA Cup against Burnley on June 6.
Local media in the U.K. reported that Tottenham is negotiating with the national team over the timing of Son’s call-up. The Evening Standard reported that Tottenham and the Korea Football Association (KFA) have yet to reach an agreement on the date of Son’s departure to the U.K. Coach Ange Postecoglou also said, “We haven’t decided yet” regarding the date of Son’s departure, saying that there is room for negotiations.
As a result of confirmation with the KFA, Tottenham did not send an official letter requesting a delay in Son’s call-up to the national team. An official of the association said, “We can say that in Tottenham, but it seems that they are playing a little bit of media.” He added, “Since national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann knows Tottenham so well, he communicates directly with the club when there is a request.”
Tottenham, which is on alert due to a series of injuries to its main players, wants to take advantage of Son Heung-min at least one more game. Tottenham, which had been leading the early 2023-2024 season, is currently ranked as the fifth place. Yves Bissouma and Pape Sarr, key resources in the midfield, should also be sent to the Africa Cup of Nations next month. With the team eliminated in the early stages of the League Cup, only the FA Cup is left for Tottenham to aim for realistically.
However, from the national team’s perspective, the departure date of Son is not subject to negotiation. According to FIFA regulations, each club is obliged to send its players up to two weeks in advance based on the first Asian Cup match upon request from each national team. The first Asian Cup match against Bahrain will take place on Saturday. If the national team rejects the request to delay the call-up of Son, Tottenham should send Son only until an away match against Brighton in the 2023-2024 EPL 19th round.
Tottenham is expected to use Son Heung-min’s loss to the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang, a tournament that is not obligated to be elected, as leverage for negotiations. Tottenham has given up Son Heung-min since the match against China, the third group match at the 2019 Asian Cup. Even if Son Heung-min plays in the match against Burnley, there is no big problem in adjusting to the time difference with nine days left until the first group match at the Asian Cup.
However, the Korean team is more eager than ever to win the Asian Cup, and it will be difficult for Tottenham to fulfill Tottenham’s demand. Including Son Heung-min, Kim Min-jae (27, Bayern Munich) and Lee Kang-in (22, Saint-Germain) are considered the best players in the history of the Asian Cup, and this is considered as an opportunity to solve their first win in 64 years. Prior to the opening of the Asian Cup, the Korean team plans to move to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) first before holding two warm-up matches to enhance its teamwork. The association believes that since Coach Klinsmann has also set winning the Asian Cup as his top priority for the Korean team, he will not delay the timing of joining the team as a key player. If he gets hurt if he loses the match against Burnley, he will inevitably face a major setback in the team’s attack tactics.