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Pros and Cons of selling Cho Gue-sung this Winter

In demand Jeonbuk star Cho Gue-sung and his agent are in talks with some European clubs, A few teams are in negotiations with the Green Warriors to sign the Korean national team forward but what are the pros and cons for Jeonbuk in selling the breakthrough star this January transfer window?

Jeonbuk were not planning to sell Cho but after his exceptionally good season in 2022 with Gimcheon and Jeonbuk, and especially since his impressive World Cup performance, the club are now having to think about retaining him or cashing in with his value at his highest. 

In the tournament Cho became the first Korean player to score two goals in a single match in the World Cup, many clubs have been interested in bringing the player away from Jeonju and have already put in bids.

The forward’s exit is looking increasingly more likely, and it will certainly have a significant impact on the team, the club would be losing a great forward and a player that has shown to be very important for manager Kim Sang-sik’s side since returning from his military service with Gimcheon Sangmu in September. With offers coming in for the K League 1 golden boot winner and Cho himself making it clear he would like to leave the club soon. Jeonbuk is likely going to have to sell their star striker in this January window or risk upsetting the player by denying him a move to Europe.

Jeonbuk could try and convince Korea’s number nine to stay until the summer but his sights look set on Europe. Cho has been a great player for Jeonbuk but could a move away from the team possibly turn out satisfactory for the Green Warriors?

Pros of selling Cho Gue-sung in January:

Whether a Cho Gue-sung transfer can turn out well for the club depends on the transfer fee. If Jeonbuk can sell Cho for a reasonable price (four-five million or potentially three million) then that is certainly decent finances for the club to receive and they can hopefully re-invest that into the team, as they look forward to a significant season for the club with the aim to take back the K League 1 title from Ulsan.

Jeonbuk should try and avoid upsetting Cho Gue-sung by not letting him leave, being on bad terms with the player would not be ideal and would result in great backlash from many fans. There is a considerable proportion of fans who like to see Korean players making that step up to Europe to benefit the national team and see them compete at a higher level. Celtic have put in a bid for Cho. They were recently in negotiations for Suwon Samsung Bluewings forward Oh Hyeon-gyu, but the Bluewings have refused to sell the player this season despite Oh wanting to join the Hoops. It wouldn’t be a good look for Jeonbuk if they were to force Cho to stay.

Former Jeonbuk centre-back Kim Min-jae is currently considered one of the best defenders in Europe this season based on performances in the top five leagues with Serie A club Napoli. Internationally it really benefits Jeonbuk if these players go on and have decent careers. Korean national team and Jeonbuk fans will be quite optimistic about Cho's chances of performing well in Europe, therefore, it would improve Jeonbuk's reputation within Asia and globally.

Selling Cho now rather than in the summer will allow enough time to find a replacement. It may be difficult for Jeonbuk to find a replacement during the season, also Cho’s replacement would have to join mid-season and not have enough time to settle into the team, which is not ideal for a title race.

Cons of selling Cho Gue-sung in January:

2017 K League 1 MVP Lee Jae-sung who now plays for Mainz was sold to Holstein Kiel from Jeonbuk in the summer of 2018 for approximately $1.5 million. Lee Jae-sung was worth more than that and he showed it in Germany. If Jeonbuk sell Cho Gue-sung lower than what they hoped, then it reinforces the belief that K League players are cheap and therefore would make sales in the future harder to negotiate for a higher fee. Quite possibly the teams that are bidding for the 24-year-old now may have looked at that Lee Jae-sung transfer and thought they could bring in Cho for a low price. The Jeonbuk board currently feel that the offers they have received are not what they hoped for and the sale of Cho Gue-sung for a low fee could harm the amount received for future transfers not just with Jeonbuk but every K League team.

Cho Gue-sung is extremely difficult to replace. Jeonbuk are not going to find someone at least in the short term like Cho, and it is difficult to replace the attacking and general belief that the striker brings to the club. He is a big part of the team not just with his quality on the pitch but in the dressing room as well. When Jeonbuk got Cho back from Gimcheon Sangmu, the team who were going through a tough period looked so much better with the forward in the team, a lot of that goes down to his quality but his presence lifts the team and that is very important for a team needing three points every week.

Selling him would mean missing out on even more social media attention and better attendance. Engagement of the league within Korea would improve because of Cho Gue-sung. If he stayed it would turn out very well for the league because he would bring eyes to K League that otherwise would not be there within and outside the country.

Final Thoughts:

Cho Gue-sung whether he leaves in January or somehow stays until the summer, it will be a major loss when he does inevitably leave. Jeonbuk should try their best to keep him, but if he wants to go and they cannot convince him to stay, he will likely leave in January.

Cho has been brilliant for Jeonbuk, not just on the pitch. His newfound fame at the World Cup has benefited the Green Warriors massively on social media and brought about a lot of attention to the club. Jeonbuk had 70k followers on Instagram but with the Korea World Cup star’s rise to fame, Jeonbuk’s follower count has risen to 187k and the striker himself is on the verge of three million followers.

Cho will be a major part of the attack for the Korean national team going forward. He will be a much better player long-term if he plays in the top five leagues or in the Champions League, and he can perform at that level which he has shown at the World Cup.

Jeonbuk has had a very satisfactory transfer window so far. Cho will be nearly impossible to replace but with the club already bringing in Lee Dong-jun, and Jun Amano to the attack, and with more to come, Jeonbuk fans will be optimistic about taking back the K League 1 title.

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