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Transfer Talk: FC Seoul

(from FCSeoul.com)
How active do you think your team will be in the winter window?

Of course, FC Seoul have not been as active as Jeonbuk, who seem intent on signing any halfway decent attacking midfielder of note.  Unlike last year however, with the signing of Dejan and the departure of Molina (more on both of those later), Seoul are being much more proactive and not content to sit by idly while other teams fill their needs.  Choi Yong-soo has stated that the team are looking to sign a right back (link) and a midfielder, so I expect to see two more notable signings.  Otherwise, it will be another disappointing transfer window.  

Pretty much everyone is ready for the coronation of Jeonbuk as league champion for the third year running, but their championship last year feels reminiscent of Chelsea's 2014-2015 season.  Both teams got off to great starts but finished in less than stellar fashion.  Also, both teams rivals (Suwon and Manchester City), choked when they could have made the race much more interesting.  This is why Jeonbuk are probably trying to sign so many new players and freshen things up.  They may have the best squad, but their are only eleven spots on the, so hopefully their will be some discord for Seoul to take advantage of in 2016.

What's your team's biggest area of need? Who are some potential targets you'd like to see fill those holes?

Two are quite obvious.  With the retirement of Cha Du-ri and Molina's departure to Independiente Medellin (cite), Seoul needs a new RB and a MF, preferably one who is creative.  They have been linked to Kim Chang-soo, a RB from J-League team Kashiwa Reysol (h/t @RealSteveScores),  but I really don't know much about him other than that he is 30 and before going to the J-League, had 8 years experience in the K-League having played with Ulsan, Daejeon, and Busan.   

If Seoul are successful in signing him, he could be an upgrade over Cha Du-ri defensively.  In fact, he could be the spur that leads Seoul to the title.  I remember in 2010 being less than overwhelmed when Seoul signed Choi Hyo-jin, but he played a big part in them wining the title that year.  

However, whether it is due to nostalgia or Cha's wonderful solo goal against Suwon in September, I will miss watching him play.  What he lacked in youth (pace and stamina maybe?) was made up in tenacity.  Whomever takes his position- Ko Kwang-min, Go Yo-han, or Kim Chang-soo, will have big shoes to fill.

Besides a RB, Seoul also need a MF, preferably a creative one.  Molina could be quite frustrating at times, especially when he was ballooning corners over everyone in the box, but he did lead the team in assists with 11.  Of course, he was the primary taker of set pieces and many of those assists were from set pieces, but someone has to deliver them.  Park Chu-young, Kim Chi-woo, or even Yun Il-lok will handle them in 2016, but they still need to replace what Molina brought to the midfield.  He had great vision and could pick out a pass.  Seoul played much better after Adriano joined in the summer, but making Molina a starter probably helped as well.

I am not sure who they will be in the market for, but I would like to see them sign Busan MF Ju Se-jong.  He seems as though he was one of the few players that turned out for their relegation campaign last year.  He led the league in tackles and was third in key passes.  He could be paired up with Osmar as DMs in a 4-2-3-1, which would make for a great midfield I think.

Likewise, there have been rumors that Ha Dae-sung might return from his stint at Beijing Guoan  (er, I guess that is not true now since he is signing with FC Tokyo).  More so than the Dejan signing, I think this would be great.  At 30, he still has a few good years left and in his final year at Seoul, some of the one-touch stuff he played was sublime.  It would be interesting to see how he would combine with Takahagi.

Finally, I think that Seoul need to sign another CB.  From what I have seen, Lee Woong Hee has to fulfill his military duty, so he is set to play for Sangju Sangmu in 2016.  If that is the case, then I foresee Seoul struggling defensively again.  I gave Lee Woong-hee a lot of stick last year, but by the end he was their best CB.

The current CBs on Seoul's roster are Kim Jin-kyu, Kim Dong-woo, and Kim Nam-chun, while Park Yong-woo and Osmar rotate between playing CB and DM.  Up until 2015, Kim Jin-kyu was one of the rocks that Seoul built its defense around, but with the departure of Kim Ju-young, he struggled in the beginning of the year and injured himself in April.  He had a brief renaissance in July but ultimately, lost his spot as Choi Yong-soo realized that a three-toed sloth could cover more ground in a game than him.

That three-toed sloth's name is Park Yong-woo, who has been nicknamed the "pass master" for his Makelele ability to square the ball.  After Seoul lost 3-0 to Jeonbuk, Choi installed Park in the middle of the three CBs, and he has held the position since.  This allowed for Park to change spots with Osmar throughout the game.

Kim Dong-woo and Kim Nam-chun are the other two CBs.  I am not 100% sold on on either.  Kim Dong-woo often times labored under the delusion that he was Messi and could take opposing players on the dribble.  Unfortunately, for Seoul, he was often disabused of this notion.  Kim Nam-chun started some games for Seoul and scored against Ulsan, but did little else of note.  Hopefully Seoul's scientists are working on splicing a bit of each player's D.N.A. and combining them to create a hybridization of one super defender- Kim Dam-choon.

Rumor has it that Osmar is off to China, which if true, creates an even bigger problem.  He was probably their most reliable player last year.  There is this and this.  Obviously, he was the glue that held the team together.  I guess more important than signing another player might be convincing Osmar to stay with Seoul another year.

Is there someone on the team you'd like to see loaned out or sold?

I saw something saying that the matchstick Park Hee-seong has been loaned out (to the police I think), so I am not sure who else to select.  If I had to pick someone else, then it would be Kim Hyun-sung.  Other than height, he really does not offer much.

I think that Seoul need to sell Kim Yong-dae.  Like Kim Jin-kyu, he has had some great years, but for whatever reason Seoul were poorer when he started.  Having been supplanted as the number one by Yu Sang-hun in 2015, Kim Yong-dae will fall even further down the pecking order with the singing of Incheon GK Yoo Hyun.

If mulleted, 80's action movie villain Kim Byung-ji can still get games, then I see no reason why Kim Yong-dae could not start for another club, such as Jeonnam, either.  

What transfers have already taken place and how do you see them playing out in 2016?

As mentioned above, Seoul have signed a new keeper, Yoo Hyun.  Also, Dejan is returning from China and Molina has signed with Independiente Medellin.  Finally, Seoul have signed Cho Chan-ho and Shin Jin-ho from Pohang.  

It is hard to say how things will play out in 2016.  Ideally, Dejan plugs in right away and forms a great partnership with Adriano.  Shin Jin-ho combines well with Takahagi to give the midfield what they need and offensively, Seoul click as Park Chu-young becomes a revelation as an AM/SS playing just above Dejan and Adriano.  The trio, along with Shin Jin-ho and Takahagi go on to score about 105 goals and Seoul wins league.  

Conversely, the worst-case scenario is that Choi opts for safety and allows seniority to rule.  He sticks with three in the back, negating the strength of his attackers, allowing Adriano, Park Chu-young, Yun Ju-tae, or Yun Il-lok to fester on the bench.  Instead of choosing players who are in form, he goes with age and Seoul are slower for it.  No one is happy, the team is shit, they bleed goals, and cannot score.  Seoul fight against relegation for most of the season until the split, when the feast on lesser opposition to secure 7th like Ulsan in 2015.  

However, I think it will fall somewhere in the middle with Seoul pushing Jeonbuk a lot closer for the title than any team has in the last two years.  Seoul will score more goals, but not as many as they should, and their defense will struggle in the beginning of the year as Seoul traditionally do.  

Let's take a quick look at some of the signings:

  • Yoo Hyun is a massive upgrade over Yu Sang-hun in the kicking department.  He led the league in kicks attempted and completed and Yu Sang-hun's kicking was one thing that I often lamented about.  However, even though Yoo Hyun has more saves than Yu Sang-hun (7th in the league), Yu Sang-hun has a slightly better save percentage.  I think the competition to see who will be the number one will be good for Seoul since I was not completely convinced about Yu Sang-hun last year.  
  •  In 2013, Cho Chan-ho helped lead Pohang to their title as the team's leading scorer.  Since then, he has not played very much (injuries I am assuming) and his loan move to Suwon failed as well.  The jury is still out on this one.  
  • Shin Jin-ho seems like another journey man midfielder.  He makes me think of Kang Seung-jo, who went on loan to Ansan Police.  Outside of his PK in the FA Cup final against Seongnam and having one good game against Incheon, he did not really light it up for Seoul.  
  • Dejan- he is a legend.  What else needs to be said.  If Lee Dong-gook can still win the MVP at the age of 36, then there is no reason why Dejan can still not continue to score goals in the upcoming year.  I am genuinely excited about this. 

Who's an "ideal" signing that would do well in the K-League?

I saw that Aston Villa are planning to sell Gabriel Agbonlahor to a team in the Middle East, so it would be great if a team in the K-League could hijack that.  However, that is next to impossible.  That being said though, two other players that I would like to see in the K-League are Jay Simpson and Jermaine Aliadiere.  

As a former Arsenal player, Jay Simpson has a great pedigree.  It never worked out for him with the gunners and at one point, he ended up playing for Burinam United in Thailand for half a season.  He is now back in League one slogging away for Leyton Orient, but I feel he could be a great addition to the K-League.  

As with Jay Simpson, Jermaine Aliadiere was a former protege of Arsenal as well.  Currently, he is playing in Qatar.  The K-League definitely needs striking talent and he would probably fit in wherever he goes.  

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