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Stevica Ristić and Mislav Oršić Re-Sign with Jeonnam

In the midst of what's been a pretty terrible couple of months as a Jeonnam fan, we've been bestowed with a plethora of good news in the past 24 hours.

The Dragons 2016 season has gone from an almost assured relegation battle to top three contender in a matter of days with the signings of Stevica Ristić and Mislav Oršić, two of the team's top scorers this season with 12 and 9 goals respectively. News of Stevo's re-signing became official last night when he posted the announcement to his Instagram page.

As the tweet indicates, the news took me a bit off guard. After the Kim Byung-ji contract kerfuffle I referenced in the Gwangju preview,  I didn't see a lot of hope for fellow veteran Ristić re-signing with the team after such lackluster results to end the season. It seemed far more likely that one of the established top three clubs like his former teams Jeonbuk or Suwon would swoop in and sign the forward for his last contract. Both clubs will (likely) offer Champions League next year as well as a legitimate shot at the K-League title. However, it's quite likely Stevo would've had to accept a bench role with those clubs and opted for more playing time by staying with Jeonnam. Had he left for greener pastures, not only would the team have missed his presence in the locker room, they would also sorely miss his production. He's lead the team in goals the previous two seasons, is reliable from the spot, and often attracts double teams from opposing defenders. Having him back for an additional year to guide Lee Jong-ho up top is amazingly valuable for the Dragons in 2016 and beyond.

I was surprised by the Ristić news. I was flat out baffled and delighted by the following:
Oršić has 9 goals and 7 assists through 31 appearances this year and during his hottest stretch this summer scored seven goals through eight league games. He's been deadly on free kicks all year, and in recent matches Noh Sang-rae has wisely had the young Croatian taking corner kicks as well. The corners paid dividends in the form of a Lee Jong-ho headed goal vs Gwangju this past weekend. Beyond the stats and free kick ability, Oršić is a footballer who can just flat out play and has the raw talent to take him extremely far in this league (and likely beyond). He has tremendous pace down the wings, and not only tracks back far better than the vast majority of attackers in the league, but does so effectively winning a good number of his tackles. It's unrealistic to expect him to perform like he did during June and July for an entire season, but with a full year in K-League under his belt it's a safe bet next year will be more even and should garner even more impressive numbers. Especially when considering he'll have the added firepower of Stevo and Lee Jong-ho back for another year.

Without these two key players returning, and the likely departure of Kim Byung-ji, 2016's roster was going to look vastly different and had more holes than a sinking ship. However, with these surprise signings the 2016 Dragons now have a solid spine to build from.  With veteran defender Choi Hyo-jin in the back, Oršić returning to the midfield, and Stevo anchoring the attack along with Lee Jong-ho, the Dragons are a solid Center Back (or two) away from fielding one of the top teams in K-League next season. This should make the January transfer window quite interesting.


  1. I would add just one more thing. We need solid goalkeeper. Jeonnam defense has been terrible this season, but also goalkeeper. Do you remember loss against Jeju 3-2 away in 89 minute? And there is much more dropped points which is Byung-ji fault(mostly). Bad positioning, too slow reactions. Get solid non Asian goalkeeper :)

    1. Agreed. There's certainly nostalgia with Kim Byung-ji in net, but he's let more than a few weak ones by this year. I've been hoping to see a bit more promise from Kim Min-sik than we have, but it's been hard to tell what's his flaw and what's the result of ridiculously poor defending. Unfortunately it's about 50/50.

      Now that two of our biggest question marks have been answered going into the offseason, the last two matches should be a good test to see what Min-sik has in net and if any of our CBs are worth keeping around. Personally, I have an American CB or two in mind that would fit quite well... but that's for another article. As for GK, I honestly can't think of a foreign GK in K-League this year. Would be an interesting (and honestly quite worth it in my mind) usage of one of the few non-Korean roster spots. Who would you try to nab during the transfer window?

    2. If foreign keeper can play in K league, I would try to nab Silvio Rodić. He is now in Poland and he is playing amazing. Another thing is that Orsic, Ristic and Lee jong-ho are in the same agency as Rodic(HBR sport). But in that case they must release Lima.

    3. There is a rule that says GK must be Korean (Why? Who knows, maybe similar to old KBO rule that said only foreign slots could be used on pitchers). There was some debate earlier when Seoul E-Land had their keeper (Kim Young-gwang aka Glory) sent off and they didn't have a reserve keeper and stuck someone (foreigner) into goal whether they would get penalized for it.

    4. Didn't know about that rule, good knowledge to have. Makes sense considering there's a much smaller pool of GKs in the league than defenders, mids, or attackers. Ensures the KNT will always have as many GKs to select from as possible in the domestic league.

  2. I was really hoping that Oršić would sign with Seoul. Considering Jeonnam's collapse, bit of a coup to convince him to stay. Can a foreign keeper play in the K-League? I thought there was a rule against it, but that is probably ridiculous now that I think about it.

    1. Mislav got engaged a week ago, so maybe he want to settle down in Gwangyang

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  4. Good signings on paper but doesn't improve Jeonnam so much as just stop them going backwards. Still need to strengthen based on their performance this year. Have to say Byung-ji looked finished in the games I saw towards the end of the season. Complete legend though. Got to shake his hand at Gwangyang.

    Can confirm that foreign goalies are NOT allowed in K-League. Mostly because there were so few slots for goalies that there was a fear they'd be flooded with foreign keepers to the detriment of local guys. Read the story of Valery Sarchev / Shin Eui Son who its rumoured basically started the rule by being too good. He had to become Korean to keep playing. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valeri_Sarychev

    Maybe in the close season we can do some articles on K-League legends to tell some of these stories?


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