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Transfer Talk: Daejeon Citizen

After what was a disastrous 2017 campaign Daejeon Citizen, lead by new manager Ko Jongsoo (pictured above), have targeted promotion back to the K League Classic in 2018. As is the case at this time of year, K League clubs are busy with preparations for the forthcoming season with  player recruitment perhaps being the most important aspect of all.
(Image via DCFC)

With an expectant but rather down-trodden Purple Arena faithful anxiously waiting for the beginning of the 2018 season to begin, Daejeon Citizen CEO Kim Ho and new Purples gaffer Ko Jongsoo will be hard at work to right the wrongs of their respective predecessors. Whilst the squad which was inherited by Coach Ko are being put through their paces in a winter training camp, CEO Kim and will be desperately trying to add that little extra bit of quality to the team that it so desperately needs by dipping into the transfer market.

How active do you think your team will be in the winter window?

Given the fact that Citizen have a new manager in place ahead of the 2018 season in Ko Jongsoo as well as a new CEO in Kim Ho, it is perhaps safe to say that there is likely to be a fair amount of transfer activity at Purple Arena between now and the end of the window. When a new manager comes in they will have their own ideas about recruitment, as well as who they will want to keep from the current playing staff. But, in truth, such an occurrence is not unusual in the K League with player turnover usually quite high. This is certainly the case for Citizen who seem to go be bedding in a new manager every winter and this a new squad of players.

The Purples listed nine players that were available for free agency at the tail end of last year, not including the foreign players such as Cristian Danalache who hasn't headed to Daejeon's first winter training camp on Tongyeong, Gyeongsang Province. One or two others who weren't on the list have also departed including Bruno Cantanhede who reportedly agreed a new deal but the contract was later rescinded by CEO Kim Ho. Georgian winger Levan has also left with his loan from Belgian side AFC Tubize coming to an end. Thus, Ko will need to bring in a core of players to make this squad competitive next year. The 2017 season was a disaster, Ko and Kim will be well aware of Citizen's fortunes, or lack there of, last year and so will be trying to get a squad together that can compete. Ko may already have targets in mind, certainly he has brought in a fair few already, and so there it wouldn't be at all surprising if there are just as many outgoings as there are in-comings.

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

Daejeon struggled massively for goals in 2017, managing just 42 goals in the league, the third lowest, but they also had a distinct lack of character and shipped fair too many at the other end of the pitch. A striker who can get upward of 15 league goals will be high up in Ko's list of priorities but, Citizen's distinct lack of mental strength would also suggest that a captain and dominant centre back would be considered just as important. Sometimes it's not just about the player's ability but whether they buy into the club's ethos or are a good fit for the dressing room that matters. I never got the impression that Cristian Danalache really wanted to be at Daejeon Citizen; if your big stars aren't pulling in the same direction then it causes rifts in the squad. Citizen need an assertive and respected captain, someone who actually wants to lead the club forward. Jean-Claude Bozga and I are still in semi-regular contact and he has reiterated his desire to return to Purple Arena one day. During the 2016 season the towering Romanian centre half donned the captains armband on a number of occasions in the absence of Kim Byungsuk and, with his experience across Europe, not to mention his calm nature, Bozga would be an ideal signing.

(Image Via Daejeon Citizen)

With Daejeon's stock being the lowest it has ever been having finished bottom of the second tier last term, it might be difficult to identify specific targets purely because a move to Purple Arena could be seen as a hard sell. However, having said that, this week the Purples secured the signing of Seongnam forward Filip Hlohovsky as well as Pohang Steelers custodian Kim Jinyoung. Clearly, players aren't too deterred by last season's bottom place finish. Also, given Kim Ho and Ko Jongsoo's contacts at Suwon Bluewings, loan moves for some of their starlets ought to be something that the pair take into consideration. For example, a season-long loan deal for Yoo Jooahn could be beneficial for both the player and his parent club. The 19-year-old broke into the Bluewings first team last term, making three starts and 12 further appearances from the bench.

Kim Minyeok was another young player whom I'd have wanted Citizen to target but the Korea Republic U20 international midfielder joined Gwangju in a part exchange deal from FC Seoul. Other targets would include Anyang's pacy winger Jung Jaehee, Ivorian central midfielder Aubin Kouakou who is available on a free transfer, and Brazilian striker Lukian who is deemed surplus to requirements at Busan.

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

The Cristian Danalache experiment simply didn't work and so, given the contract he would have been on, he will have been allowed to leave without any arguments or objections. Daejeon's promotion from the challenge in 2014 was partly down to the pace they possessed in attack; Daejeon lacked pace and vigour in the final third in 2017 and so a pacy striker would be the way to go in 2018.

Image via (Daejeon Citizen)

Club captain Kim Jinkyu (pictured above)  will be viewed in a similar light; he struggled for fitness and wasn't the captain that Daejeon fans were perhaps expecting. From the list of players eligible to be free agents, there are a handful that ought to be allowed to leave with the club's best wishes. In truth, given how bad last year was, a complete rebuild wouldn't be a bad idea. There is a great deal of deadwood still floating around at the club and for Citizen to move forward the squad needs to be leaner and meaner.


What transfers have already taken place and how do you see them playing out in 2018?

Daejeon have been busy already, bringing in nine players. The names that stand out are goalkeeper Kim Jinyoung from Pohang Steelers and Slovakian winger Filip Hlohovsky (pictured below) from Seongnam. Ko Myeongseok, a 22-year-old defender, is part of the Korea Republic U23 squad that will compete in this winter's AFC U-23 Championships in China having impressed in his first season as a professional with Bucheon 1995 last year.

(Image via Seongnam FC)

I'd expect all three of those to be in the first XI come the first game of the season and potentially Pedro Henrique. Whenever a foreign player comes into the K League there is always a huge risk that they won't settle to the demands and rigours of the league, or as has been the case in the past, they haven't been scouted properly. Pedro's namesake, also Pedro Henrique was brought in this time last season and was eventually paid off. However, the 2018 Pedro has been playing in Romania's top division for the past three seasons with ACS Poli Timisoara and scored five goals in 17 appearances, 10 from the start, last season and bagged 11 in 20 in 2014/2015.

As of 5th January 2018, Daejeon Citizen's transfers in:

Kim Jinyoung (GK) Pohang Steelers
Kim Seungseop (MF) Kyunghee University
Ko Myeongseok (DF) Bucheon 1995
Yoo Haeseong (FW) KC University
Kim Seyoon (FW) Youth
Lee Jisol (DF) Youth
Moon Yonghwi (GK) Youth
Pedro Henrique de Santana Almeida (FW) ACS Poli Timisoara
Filip Hlohovsky (FW) Seongnam

For a full roundup of transfers see our 2018 Winter Transfer Tracker here


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