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Transfer Profile: Jeong Tae-wook

Daegu FC announced the signing of towering centre back Jeong Tae-wook from Jeju United in exchange for versatile wingback Jung Woo-jae. The centre back is regarded one of the most talented youngsters in Korean football and was part of the Asian Game winning squad in 2018. Daegu FC correspondent Muyeol Jung spoke to Jeju United writer Branko Belan about what Daegu can benefit from the youngster.
(image via Daegu FC)

How was he viewed at Jeju United? What was the perception of him league-wide?

Jeong Tae-wook was always seen as a player with massive potential for a number of reasons. Up to this point in his career, he has amassed great experience at the international level with Korea’s U-20 and U-23 sides, so the perception of him around the league is one of a player who can be a great asset to any club in the top flight in the future.

The fact that he is making the move to Daegu is a great one for him at this stage in his development at the senior level, as Daegu have had a lot of success working with younger players. He will be enveloped in a positive atmosphere with his new club with so many new things awaiting them in 2019, including playing football in a new home stadium and participating in the ACL for the first time in the team’s history.

Even though he did not feature very much last season, he still gained exposure by making appearances in the ACL against Buriram United in Jeju’s final group match, a 1-0 loss, and also in the fourth round FA Cup match, a 4-1 win over Korea University, where he played a full ninety minutes.

He was a member of the Asian Games gold medal winning side last year, starting the final Group E encounter against Kyrgyzstan, a 1-0 victory, and also made a brief cameo appearance against Iran in the Round of 16, which finished 2-0 in Korea’s favour.

He was also capped 22 times with the U-20 side, featuring at the U-20 World Cup on home soil in 2017, where he started all four matches, and registered one assist in Korea’s 3-0 opening win against Guinea.

What are the strongest aspects of his game?

The first thing which stands out about him is his size. At 194 centimetres, he is a capable presence at the back, and is not afraid of aerial duels. He is a physical specimen. His ability to win the ball in tackles is impressive, and he is quick to close space on attackers and take away goal scoring opportunities in his own area. He also has great vision to make a pass out of defence when transitioning into attack. His overall ball presence makes him a well-rounded player.

Does he have any weaknesses?

The major weakness in his game right now is a lack of experience. He only saw the field five times last season in K League 1, with his longest outing coming against his new team, where he played 36 minutes in the clubs’ first meeting last April, a resounding 4-1 away win for the islanders. The hope is that he will get more opportunities to showcase what he can do over the course of the new campaign.

What were his reasons for leaving?

Jeju have done some re-shuffling with their defensive group during the off-season, and there just wasn’t enough room to accommodate him. The staff and coaches at Jeju United know very well what sort of player he is, and that he can help a lot of teams in the league, so moving him to Daegu was seen as a good solution because he has a better chance to get more playing time.

In the end, it was a move for the mutual benefit of both the player and the club, as Jeju received a very capable player in return. It should work out well for both parties involved.

Where do you think he would be best utilised with Daegu FC?

He is best suited to play in the center of defence, as that is his natural position, but he can also play right back as well. He is capable of causing problems for opposing strikers and has worked on his positioning and ball skills in training. As with all players, there is still progress to be made, but he has a ton of upside, and I am confident that Daegu will utilise him in the best way possible.

Jung Tae-wook (L) in action for Jeju against Daegu in 2018

What should Daegu fans expect from him?

Fans of Daegu FC, and especially those who have a particular interest in younger players will have already heard of Jeong Tae-wook thanks to his performances for the younger categories for the national team. He is a hard worker who is always finding ways to improve his game, and plays with a fearlessness that will surely make him a favourite.

I personally felt a lot of pride to see him picked among the best as a Jeju United player for the World Cup two years ago, and then again for the Asian Games last summer. I feel he has all the tools to become a top level player, and most certainly wish him well with his newest endeavour.

What was his best moment with Jeju United?

His best moment for Jeju last season was being selected in the starting eleven in the ACL against Buriram . The fact that Cho Sung-hwan showed enough confidence to play him in such a high level match, despite the fact that Jeju had already been eliminated from the competition, demonstrates how much confidence the coaching staff had in his abilities. It was a good opportunity for him to experience the speed of the game at the next level, and he handled himself admirably.

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