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Transfer Talk: Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors

Kim Shin-wook warms-up before another another appearance from the bench. Not all of Jeonbuk's winter signings have met expectations or have even had the playing time to do so. (Photo Credit: Howard Cheng)
Kim Shin-wook and Ricardo Lopes warm-up before another appearance from the bench. Not all of Jeonbuk's winter signings have met expectations or have been given the playing time. Would signing more help? (Photo Credit: Howard Cheng)

Which player(s) signed in the Winter Transfer Window has performed best for your team this season?

The most obvious stand-out performer would be Kim Bo-kyung. He suffered an injury in only his second game and took six weeks to return, but when he did Jeonbuk's performances dramatically improved. It has even led to some quarters calling for his return to the national team.

I also think Choi Kyu-baek has done very well given that this is his first professional season and he has had to step up to fill in for the now departed Kim Kee-hee as well as a number of other centre-backs the manager has lost faith in. In this, his breakthrough season, he also managed to score his first goal for the Korean U23 side where scored the winner against Nigeria.

Finally, I think the signing of Lopes from Jeju United has been a pretty decent signing as expected and has scored three goals in 14 league appearances, although only eight of these have been starts. The most common theme with the majority of Jeonbuk's winter signings is they have been rotated heavily into different line-ups early on, with 12-14 players only been given the time to settle as a unit since a 3-2 victory against Seongnam. Not many have been given a chance since to give a fair appraisal of but of these, Lopes has at least forced himself into an appearance in all but one league game this season and does look sharp. He also links up very well with Leonardo who is normally tasked with manning the other flank.

Which position (if any) do you think your team needs to target most this transfer window?

Jeonbuk's biggest mistake was selling Kim Kee-hee. Although understandable given the size of the fee received, Choi Kang-hee opted not to spend the cash in the final 24 hours of the window and instead chose to rely on his new unsettled defenders and the defenders he originally wanted to replace. Jeonbuk did not keep a clean sheet for 12 games in the league from March 20th until last weekend's 0-0 tie away to Incheon, with nearly all of their other draws being two points lost rather than one point gained.

The manager has found some consistency in his back four selection in the last month, constantly choosing Choi Jae-soo, Lim Jong-eun, Choi Kyu-baek and Choi Chul-soon. Whilst they are all putting in a good shift, an additional centre-back to provide competition to Lim Jong-eun would be most welcome.

Is there a player within K-League you'd like to see your team sign? An international player?

I would love Tiago but I am sure many other teams would as well. If there's any K-League team with pull it would be Jeonbuk, but that might be something realistically pursued if Leonardo opts not to renew his expiring contract and leaves in the winter (and also if Jeonbuk are not playing in the Challenge).

Wild speculation aside, long term signings this summer could be few and far between. This is partly because we clearly signed too many in January who we already cannot fit in the match day squad. Furthermore, players with more than six month's of K-League ambition may not be tempted by a team whose future remains unresolved. The recent match-fixing allegations could deter a number of suitors, especially as it could result in no ACL participation or worse.

I guess there is the constant Edu to return rumour who would almost certainly have to replace Luiz due to the limit on international players, but I highly doubt this will actually happen, despite Edu apparently wanting to retire in Korea. Luiz is performing well and I do not think Choi Kang-hee has any interest in breaking up the "Leonardo - Lopes - Luiz" relationship.

If recently signed yet rarely played Erik Paartalu leaves the club in the summer, we could also sign another international although they would have to be from the Asia-Pacific regions to meet the K-League regulations. After seeing the way Erik has been treated by the manager though, A-League players may be hesitant to step into his vacated spot and therefore Jeonbuk would potentially have to look to the Chinese Super League or J-League instead.

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

Ideally I would like to see the signings we made in the winter be slowly reintroduced into the team so we can give them a fair shot. I know I cannot argue for both rotation and consistency, but now we have an idea who the starting eleven is, surely we can now adjust it occasionally to give the likes of Ko Moo-yeol, Lee Jong-ho and Erik Paartalu a better crack at breaking into the first team as they are definitely not bad players. If they cannot get the game time at Jeonbuk though, they may be moved to go elsewhere

Out of those three, I would be surprised if Paartalu decided to stay. Despite bringing a wealth of experience and moving all the way from his home country, he has been completely and unfairly exiled by the manager and therefore has sadly become a waste of an international spot for the club through no fault of his own. Although I would prefer him to break into the team, he might be best moving on elsewhere to avoid his career stagnating.

Other banished players who might be best moving on for the sake of their careers would be Kim Chang-soo (a player who earned an international cap as recently as March) and Kim Hyung-il. It is amazing what one bad night in Vietnam can do to your career if your manager is Choi Kang-hee.

Realistically, who would be a great signing for the league? 

More Korean internationals is what the league needs in my opinion. Just imagine being able to go to a game and actually see players who represent your country on the biggest stage! It has worked for Kim Bo-kyung who, after work permit troubles in the UK, headed eastwards and eventually his native Korea. His strong performances at Jeonbuk are now helping him come back into contention for a national team recall.

In contrast to this, Uli Stielike continues to select European-based bench warmers for his national squad instead of taking a risk with exciting younger talent in the domestic league, some of which we looked at for an alternate 23 man squad back in March. Seeing as that it is unlikely for him to change his ways though, perhaps some of the Korean players in Europe would like to return to their home country for a spell.

Crystal Palace's midfielder Lee Chung-yong does not look set to make it through the summer in London after falling out with Alan Pardew. Coming back to the K-League though, even as part of his military service, would interest a few supporters.

There are also a few national team names in the Bundesliga who must know their time is coming to an end at their clubs. The likes of Ji Dong-won and Park Joo-ho have all failed to get as much playing time this season and would be welcomed home with open arms. However, they are much more likely to move to another European club and who can blame them as Europe is definitely a step up. Stielike would also most likely ignore them if they were in the K-League.

I also do not wish to see South Korea fail in the Olympics, but Son Heung-min and Suk Hyun-jun being called up to the military and thus likely plying their trade for Sangju Sangmu (or a promoted Ansan Mugunghwa) for two seasons would certainly get a lot more people coming to the games. Those kinds of moves would have to wait though until future windows though.


  1. The Wookie, Lopes, and Paartalu would all look fantastic in yellow. :D

  2. I'd like to retract my comments in the article in regards to Kim Chang-soo's possible banishment from the squad. The player has since been reported injured this month with a problem in his left calf. This was picked up a month prior and, although he returned briefly to training, he is once again sidelined with the same injury.

    Despite no word of this on Jeonbuk's official site (they've only reported three injuries all season to their "big name" players), it has since been published in various Korean outlets throughout June. Sorry for any confusion.


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