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scouting

Lee Jeong-hyeop : The answer to Gangwon’s attacking woes?


It’s no secret that Gangwon are lacking in the centre-forward department. The Bears are the second lowest scorers in the division (only FC Seoul, who have two games in hand, have scored less), and have just one player who has netted over three goals in the league; winger Kim Dae-won. Options like Vladimir Siladji have desperately struggled for form, whilst the likes of Go Moo-yeol and Shin Chang-moo have failed to nail down starting positions, in part due to injury.


As a result, it came as no surprise that in the summer window, Gangwon sought out a traditional number nine to add to their ranks. After all, if Kim Byung-soo wants to address his inconsistencies, a positive starting point would be to have an occasionally directionless attack bolstered by someone who is keen to finish what the likes of Cho Jae-wan can create. On deadline day, it was confirmed that experienced striker Lee Jeong-hyeop was to be the man tasked with helping the Bears in their quest for solutions.

But is he the right profile?

On the surface, it’s easy to be dubious. For starters, the 30-year-old has scored just once in the league this year, a fact which is made equally as worrying when one considers that it was for Gyeongnam in the second division. For a team which lacks in firepower, recruiting a player who has just 14 top-tier domestic goals across his entire career might not appear the smartest move.

However, as is commonly the case, surface level statistics don’t tell the whole story. Despite averaging a goal every 810 minutes in 2021, and having just an 8% shot conversion rate, Lee is someone who enjoys pressing high up the pitch, and thrives on bringing his teammates into the game. An average of 67% of his passes each game are made in the opposition half, whilst he also comes out on top in an estimated 3.3 duels with opposition players per match. The latter statistic is higher than any other of Gangwon’s forwards, an encouraging sign considering the Bears’ reserved, tepid competitiveness in attacking areas at times this campaign.

Furthermore, if one is to look into the 30-year-old’s last full season - one in the first division with Busan IPark - the depressing conversion rate seen earlier is replaced by an impressive figure of 21%, with the tethered forward then averaging a goal every 281 minutes. Even if Lee only managed to score a modest six across twenty appearances, the two-footed forward still proved himself as a capable option. With statistically better players than Gyeongnam’s squad has to offer, Gangwon will be hoping that they see the Lee Jeong-hyeop of 2020, as opposed to the one who has failed to show his cutting edge in the past few months.


Yet there is something arguably more important, and perhaps something which could easily go unnoticed about the transfer. Lee Jeong-hyeop really wants to be a part of the club. “Gangwon FC has been a team I have wanted to play with for a long time. I am excited to join and I am looking forward to what kind of football I will play in the future,” he said upon his arrival through the club website. Motivation goes a long way in this sport, so with a national team attacker who is hungry for success whilst playing for the Bears now on the books, with some luck, Gangwon’s attacking woes can soon finally be a thing of the past.


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