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Busan IPark: 5 to Watch


Don't know your Jin-gyu from your Jin-gi? Bloated squads and foreign names can make it difficult for neutrals and K League newcomers to get to know the little figures running around on the field, but that's easily remedied. Here I give you the lowdown on five of Busan IPark's exciting prospects to keep an eye on in 2018.
(image via Busanipark.com)


Kim Moon-hwan

Squad number: 33
Age: 22
Position: Winger


(image via Busanipark.com)

In 2017 very few players were exempt from Cho Jin-ho's rotation policy for Busan, but youngster Kim Moon-hwan was a special case. He appeared in 39 games in all competitions in his debut season, occupying a variety of positions including wing-back and full-back on both sides. His energy and defensive discipline was impressive, but this season he should get more of a run further forward following the departures of Lim Sang-hyup and Jung Seok-hwa. Slight but speedy, Kim Moon-hwan notched up four league goals last year, but his final product is something that he'll look to improve on this year. Currently a regular for the Korea Under-23 team, this could be a big year.

Romulo

Squad number: 10
Age: 22
Position: Central midfielder


(image via Busanipark.com)

In 2015 Romulo scored two goals for Brazil Under-22 in the Pan American Games, so his talent should come as no surprise. On loan last year, the left-footed playmaker experienced a mixed first half to the campaign, but became a key figure in Busan's promotion charge. Short, stocky, and deadly from set-pieces, Romulo was even given penalty duties in the crucial play-off final with Sangju Sangmu despite his tender years. Romulo seemed to have settled in Korea well (his cheerleading exploits after important wins last season attest to this), so it was a shrewd move to sign him up on a permanent deal this year.


Kim Jin-gyu

Squad number: 23
Age: 21
Position: Central/attacking midfielder


(image via Busanipark.com)

In July 2015 Kim Jin-gyu curled a beautiful shot beyond Daejeon Citizen goalkeeper Oh Seung-hoon to become K League 1's youngest ever goalscorer at eighteen years old. Three years on, Kim has only featured sporadically for Busan IPark, but this year could be the break-out fans have been waiting for. Kim was a surprise starter in the first game of this year against Seongnam, and he capped a composed performance with a well-taken goal. Coming off the bench last weekend against Seoul E-Land, he looked lively and confident on the left of a front three. It was no surprise, then, that Kim was called up for Korea's latest U-23 squad this week.


Lee Dong-jun

Squad number: 11
Age: 21
Position: Winger


(image via Busanipark.com)

Lee Dong-jun made a big impact in the final third of his debut season last year. His direct, fearless running and explosive pace made him a deadly option late in games, and he even chipped in with some important goals. After scoring a brace off the bench in the promotion play-off with Asan Mugunghwa, he also netted in the FA Cup final with Ulsan. Lee made 22 appearances for the Korean Under-20 team, netting eight goals, and he appears to have the raw talent to move on up to the next level.


Alemao Junior

Squad number: 60
Age: 29
Position: Striker


(image via Busanipark.com)

Almost every Korean team has taken punts on little-known Brazilian strikers, hoping for them to become the next Adriano. Busan have had hits (Fagner, Popp) as well as misses (Bergson, Bill) in recent years, and Alemao Junior will hope to land in the former group. He comes with a higher pedigree than most, having had stints in Italy and the Netherlands, and a goal on his debut against Seoul E-Land last weekend was a positive start. Although he didn't appear to be in the peak of physical fitness, he was neat and tidy, often dropping deep to get involved in the midfield build-up. Alemao will hope that his bullet header is the first of many goals in 2018.

Busan IPark are next in action against Asan Mugunghwa this Sunday at the Gudeok Stadium, Busan (kickoff 2pm).


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