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Transfers: Late window signings bolster Ulsan Hyundai's title hopes

The start of the 2020 K League season may be on hold for the moment, but that has not stopped Ulsan Hyundai from making significant moves in the transfer market.  


Most notably, 31-year-old midfielder Lee Chung-yong, a mainstay of the men's national team for over a decade, has joined the Horangi in their bid to lift their first K League 1 trophy since 2005. 

Lee's three-year deal is said to be the biggest in Ulsan's near thirty-year history.  The club also paid a small transfer fee to Lee's former club VfL Bochum, while the player had to work around a compensation clause with FC Seoul, the club Lee left in 2009 to join Bolton Wanderers in the Premier League.

The move is a real coup for Ulsan, who were missing a midfield threat after losing last year's MVP Kim Bo-kyung to rivals Jeonbuk Hyundai back in January.

Lee Chung-yong scored the only goal in a 1-0 win over Bolivia at Ulsan's Munsu Stadium last year
Lee is quoted as saying: "I am pleased to join a team that has set such a clear goal of winning a championship. I was excited just to be preparing to return to the K League. I decided to sign with Ulsan because of their continued interest and support."

The "Blue Dragon", a nickname based on a translation of his name, will bring a wealth of experience to Ulsan, having made over 200 league appearances in English football at Bolton and Crystal Palace, while being capped 89 times by his country.


Lee Chung-yong will be joined by another marquee Korean signing, highly decorated defender Kim Kee-hee, who joins from MLS outfit Seattle Sounders FC.
  
The 30-year-old Busan native has two K League 1 titles and a KFA Cup to his name from his time with Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, along with the Chinese FA Cup he won with Shanghai Shenhua and the most recent addition, the 2019 MLS Cup.


Kim bid an emotional farewell to Seattle fans through his Instagram account last month, before saying "I'm so excited to play for K-League again with Ulsan Hyundai FC".

Kim Kee-hee is just the latest addition to an already intimidating Ulsan backline that features several Korean internationals: defenders Jung Seung-hyun, Yun Young-sun, and Park Joo-ho, goalkeeper Jo Hyun-woo, as well as K League United Defender of the Year Dave Bulthuis.

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