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Transfers: Hwang Inbeom Departs for MLS

Transfers: Hwang Inbeom Departs for MLS Vancouver Whitecaps
Daejeon Citizen starlet Hwang Inbeom has joined MLS side Vancouver Whitecaps for a fee in the region of $1.8m. Despite interest from Germany, Denmark and Portugal over the last couple of years, the creative midfielder has opted for Canada and will become only the fourth Korean player to ply their trade in Major League Soccer.

The 22 year-old, who made his professional debut four years ago, had been attracting interest from the likes of Werden Bremen and Hamburger SV in Germany and was said to be the subject of a bid from Benfica in 2016. However, the Daejeon-born midfielder has opted to sign for the British Columbia-based outfit Vancouver Whitecaps.

Hwang signs as a 'Young Designated Player' until the end of 2020 with options for extensions into 2021 and 2022, the club announced on Thursday morning Korea Standard Time.

“Hwang is an exciting young talent who we identified early as one of our primary targets,” said Whitecaps FC head coach Marc Dos Santos. “He’s a creative midfielder who is incredibly gifted technically and was coveted by a number of clubs around the world. He fits into the style we want to play very well. We're excited to work with Hwang and help him reach his full potential.”

It is believed that Dos Santos spoke with Korean National Team Manager Paulo Bento about the talented midfielder and that Lee Youngpyo, who won 127 caps for the Taeguk Warriors and ended his playing career with the Whitecaps, played a role in the move.

In the summer of 2018, Hwang Inbeom earned military exemption after winning gold at the Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia. Since then, Hwang's rise to stardom has been somewhat swift having secured a starting berth in Paulo Bento's Korea Republic side that made it to the Quarterfinals of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup.

At club level, Hwang came through the ranks at Daejeon Citizen and made is debut in what was then the K League Classic (K League 1), Korea's top tier. During his debut season, Hwang Inbeom found the back of the net on four occasions, with all four of his goals that season coming against relative giants of Korean football in Pohang Steelers, FC Seoul, Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, and Seongnam FC - teams which have 24 league titles between them.

A long term injury prevented Hwang from making any more than 14 appearances that season. However, with the team looking to bounce back from relegation, the wonderboy the Purple Arena faithful dubbed the 'Son of Daejeon', went on to make 35 league appearances and scored five goals in 2016, and score four goals from 32 appearances in 2017, earning himself a place in the K League 2 Best XI three years in a row.

For the start of the 2018 campaign, Hwang Inbeom opted to begin his mandatory military service early and so joined Asan Mugunghwa, a team of professional footballers who are conscripted auxiliary police officers. In the yellow of Asan, Hwang Inbeom proved to be a key figure for Park Donghyuk's side, playing alongside experience Korean international midfielders such as Lee Myeongju and Ju Sejong.

However, with gold at the Asian Games earning Hwang military exemption, he returned to his parent club Daejeon Citizen who were at the time gunning for the playoffs. The returning Hwang made an immediate impact by laying on an assist for Romanian forward Aurelian Chițu to overturn a 1-0 deficit into a last, gasp 2-1 win away to fellow playoff hopefuls, Gwangju FC, in September.

Six further appearances came, and two goals - including an audacious Panenka penalty against FC Anyang in the final home game of the regular season, and a sumptuous half-volley in a 3-0 victory over Bucheon FC 1995 the week previous.


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