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Transfer Profile: Ko Myeong-seok and Kim Da-sol

Earlier this month, defender, Ko Myeong-seok, and goalkeeper, Kim Da-sol, signed for Suwon Bluewings from Daejeon Citizen and Suwon FC, respectively. To get more details on two of the K League 2's top performers in 2018 we spoke to our own Daejeon Citizen correspondent, Paul Neat, and Suwon FC fan, Joe Quinn about the pair. 
(Image via bluewings.kr)

First, Paul tells us about Ko Myeong-seok:

How was he viewed at Daejeon Citizen? What was his reputation like league wide?

Ko Myeong-seok was a key part of the Daejeon Citizen team last season. Ko played 34 times for Daejeon in 2018, more than any other player in the squad, which was excellent to see given that it was only his second season as a professional. A number of different players were tried alongside him, Yoon Shin-young and Yun Jun-sung, who has since left to join Suwon FC, but one thing remained a constant and that was Ko’s place at the heart of the Purple’s defense.

League wide, he seemed to be under the radar somewhat because, despite being statistically the best centre back in K League 2 last year, Ko wasn’t selected, or even nominated, to be in the official K League 2 Best XI. But, if a club of the stature of Suwon Bluewings has come in for him, then clearly someone has taken notice of what a talented player he is.

What are the strongest aspects of his game?

Ko is very calm and composed and the fact that he picked up just one yellow card all season, in 2018, is testament to that. He’s a very good passer of the ball too and was in and among the top ten in terms of forward passes made (that were not long balls) in the whole of the K2, not just among the defenders. Whilst he can play out from the back, he does the simple things well that a centre half is expected to and was second overall in the league for the number of interceptions made, as well as clearances.

Does he have any weaknesses?

He’s still relatively young and only has two full seasons behind him, so he does lack a bit of experience and will, perhaps, feel the jump up to the top end of K League 1 initially. He’s not the quickest off the mark but he reads the game very well, his interception stats being a prime example of that. He also lacks a bit of a aggression but, in truth, this is just nitpicking. He’s a very, very good player and very much a future Korean National Team player in my eyes.

What were his reasons for leaving?

Quite simply, the offer will have been deemed to good to turn down, both for Daejeon Citizen and for Ko Myeong-seok himself. Being a citizen club, Daejeon will have to balance the books and sell players to be able to free up some money for transfers. This will have been the only reason why he was allowed to leave the club, that, or Ko Jong-soo was doing his old team a favour. Every team will want to keep hold of their best players but when there’s an opportunity for a good, young player to make the step up to a side that will be challenging for AFC Champions League qualification then nothing should stand in their way.

Where do you think he would be best utilized with Suwon Bluewings?

At the heart of the Suwon defence, either in a back three or four. His mobility and ability to get on the ball and pass will enable him to play in a back three, as well as being able to slot right in to more of an orthodox back four. If Suwon can have some experience alongside him then it should serve him well.

What should K League 1 fans expect from him?

A calm and composed centre back who is only going to get better and better. It was a very shrewd signing, a year ago, by those high up at Purple Arena, given that Ko had featured regularly for the Korea U23 squad and was available on a free. Likewise, given how well he played during a season which saw Daejeon reach the Promotion Playoff Final, it would be fair to say that the Bluewings have made an equally shrewd signing 12 months later.

What was his best moment with Daejeon Citizen? 

Ko Myeong-seok managed to bag the winner in a 1-0 home win over Suwon FC in September, nodding home from a corner to seal a vital three points for Daejeon.

Now, we ask Joe about Kim Da-sol:

How was he viewed at Suwon FC? What was his reputation like league wide?

Based on last season, he was held in the highest regard. That being said, he was only a Suwon FC player for 2 seasons and didn't feature too much in his first season (only 8 games). But, he was clearly favoured by Kim Dae-eui and he won the fans' player of the season award for 2018. It should be added that Suwon FC's limitations in 2018 provided Kim with ample opportunity to prove himself.         
It's hard to say what other fans thought of him but having watched K2 all season I personally wouldn't put too many goalkeepers above him. 
What are the strongest aspects of his game?

Shot stopping is undoubtedly his strongest attribute. He is particularly good at getting something onto shots close to his body and his distribution is pretty good, especially long balls out to wide players.    He is a consistent, solid keeper and I can genuinely only recall one howler last season, when he gave the ball straight to Anyang's Alex, who lobbed it over him into the net.                     

Does he have any weaknesses?

No glaring weaknesses but I would say that he isn't always the most confident under the high ball and coming out for crosses. Big game experience could also be a worry. The fact is, at 29 years old, 2018 was his first season as a first choice keeper and the first time he played over 12 games in a season.                                                                                                                                                                 
What were his reasons for leaving?

Another season of budgeting for K2 may have forced Suwon FC's hand. As for Kim himself, being out of contract, and having just turned 30 years old, you've got to imagine his opportunities to move upwards will be few and far between in the future, so it's a no-brainer from his point of view.

He was part of the successful Pohang squad of 5 or 6 years ago but never played too many games.  He then failed to make it during one-year spells at Daejeon and Incheon, so the chance to prove himself in K1, especially at a big club like the Bluewings was too much to turn down.     

What should K League 1 fans expect from him?

Not knowing too much about the Bluewings goalkeeping depth, I'm not sure if Kim is going there as first choice or back-up. At 30, it could be his last chance, so I expect Kim will be doing everything he can to succeed. The 2018 season will have done his confidence the world of good and if he's playing behind a solid back line, I would expect his shot stopping ability to grab a few points for the Bluewings.

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