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scouting

Daejeon Hana Citizen's winter recruits and where they might fit in

With AFC Champions League qualification for aim for Daejeon Hana Citizen in 2024, the Purpes have had a productive transfer window. Proven K League 1 players such as Kim Seung-dae, Lee Soon-min, Aaron Calver, and Hong Jong-un have come through the door but where are they all expected to fit in?

UPDATE: Cho Yu-min's sudden move to Sharjah FC in the UAE Pro League changes the complexion of Daejeon's transfer business and perhaps even Lee Min-sung's tactics. Defensive reinforcements had been brought in, largely to compliment Cho and Anton Kryvotsyuk but the former, who was only just reappointed captain a couple of weeks ago, leaving with just over two weeks to go until the new season begins means there'll be a bit of a rethink.

New signings

Kim Seung-dae - 32, attacking midfielder (Pohang Steelers)

'Linebreaker' Kim Seung-dae is expected to be the direct replacement for Masatoshi Ishida, someone who can play anywhere across the front or as an attacking midfielder. Kim Seung-dae offers similar qualities to Masa, and will bring experience to a squad that was a bit naive and lacking in strength of character at times last season. In Lee Min-sung's 3-5-2, with full backs occupying the wide spots, Kim could operate from central midfield with license to roam forward. He could also play as the second striker just behind Vladislavs Gustovskis. Kim is a proven commodity at this level having played well over 250 matches in K League and is closing in on the 50-50 club of 50 goals and assists.

Hong Jung-un - 29, centre back (Daegu FC)

The sudden departure of Cho Yu-min to Sharjah FC in the United Arab Emirates changes everything for Daejeon. Originally, Hong Jong-un was brought in to compete for the last centre back spot made vacant by Kim Min-duk's departure for military service. Daejeon looked to be shifting to a back four judging from how Lee Min-sung had set his team up in pre-season, but with Cho out the door there could be a shift back to a three with Hong Jung-un in the middle, Aaron Calver on the right and Anton Kryvotsyuk on the left.

More often than not, Hong was the central defender in a three under Choi Won-kwon but occasionally as the right-sided centre back in a four. Daejeon already have Kim Hyeon-woo and Lim Dug-keun so there should be competition for places in a back line that shipped the second-most goals last year. Hong brings experience having played nearly 200 times for Daegu and being part of the Sky Blues's FA Cup winning side in 2018. He's also played 18 times in the AFC Champions League.

Aaron Calver - 28, centre back (Gwangju FC)

Another centre back through the door is Australian Aaron Calver from Gwangju FC. The 28-year-old Sydney native made 19 appearances for Gwangju last season, 11 from the start. He was part of Gwangju's 2022 K League title-winning side, making 25 appearances for Lee Jung-hyo, scoring three and assisting one. Calver will perhaps feel he didn't get enough game time while in South Jeolla and so will not have moved to Daejeon to play a bit-part role. If Daejeon set up in a four then they're well-stocked for centre backs, a little less so in a three but Calver's versatility means he can play in either system. Another option is for Calver to operate from right back in a four. Lee Min-sung is fortunate in the sense that both of his foreign centre backs can play at full back too with Anton impressing down the left last season.

Lee Soon-min - 29, central midfielder (Gwangju FC)

Daejeon have gone all-in to get Lee Soon-min to the club and will be first choice in central midfield. He'll be seen as a replacement for Lee Jin-hyun in some ways but, if paired alongside Kim Seung-dae and ahead of Ju Se-jong in a 3-5-2, will anchor the midfield. Ju Se-jong will screen the back line, Kim Seung-dae will break forward, and Lee Soon-min will be somewhat box-to-box. But given that Daejeon are believed to have given Lee a significant pay rise, the current Korean international will be first choice.

Park Jin-seong - 22, left back (Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors)

Park Jin-seong is a left back or left wingback and, in theory, comes in to replace Seo Young-jae who has left for military service. Seo, though, hasn't officially left the club and there have been murmurings of paperwork complications meaning he could begin the season at Daejeon before moving to K4 in the summer. But Park will be expected to be Seo Young-jae's long-term replacement, even if he is a little inexperienced  with 74 career appearances to his name and just 23 in K League 1. With Kang Yoon-seong and Oh Jae-seok able to play left wingback, as too Anton Kyrvotsyuk, Park might have to bide his time and get a feel for the club before he is given a run in the team. Park spent the 2023 season out on loan at K League 2 newcomers Chungbuk Cheongju, making 28 appearances and providing two assists. 

K League United Jeonbuk columnist Tom Bolger's assessment:

Park Jin-seong is a young full-back who was highly rated by Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, who were reluctant to sell him. He's hard-working defensively. His movement is good, and he is always keen to contribute going forward. One of his downsides may be his recklessness, which was noticeable when playing in K League 1 when he featured as a U22 in 2021 and 2022 before his loan to Chungbuk Cheongju. He obviously still needs to gain more K League 1 experience and requires nurturing before he can comfortably push on with Daejeon. Nevertheless, he already has the quality to perform at this level. If he receives adequate support and trust, there's no reason why he can't perform well for Daejeon Hana Citizen once he settles at this level.

Kim Jun-beom - 26, central midfielder (Incheon United)

With plenty of competition in midfield, Kim Jun-beom is likely to be something of a squad player. The 26-year-old has 86 appearances to his name at K League 1 level, scoring five and assisting four. Kim was at Gimcheon last year, featuring 14 times and scoring once as the army side won the K League 2 title. He's a bit of an all-rounder who works hard and does a lot of running and may well get starts in order to do a specific marking job or to disrupt the opposition's midfield. He began his career with Gyeongnam and the most appearances he's made in a single season came while with the Roses, managing 24 in 2019 and 19 in 2018.

Farley Rosa - 30, winger (Tianjin Jinmen Tiger)

 Rosa in Europa League action for Apollon Limassol in 2014 (FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images)
With less than three weeks to go to the new season, Daejeon on 13th February unveiled their latest recruit - Brazilian winger Farley Rosa. Rosa joins from Chinese Super League side Tianjin Jinmen Tiger where he spend around two years, featuring 59 times, scoring 10, and assisting 11. He's well-travelled having also played in Portugal for Sporting at youth level, in Ukraine with FK Sevastopol, his native Brazil with Monte Azul, in Cyprus with Apol. Limassol and AEK Larnaca, Greece with Panetolikos and Atromitos, Saudi Arabia with Al-Ettifaq, the UAE with Fujairah SC, Israel with H. Beer Sheva and Hapoel Tel Aviv and China. 

Last season, Rosa scored eight and assisted three in 29 Super League appearances. He mostly plays off the left but can play anywhere across a three behind the main striker. He has pace, possesses good individual skill, and is a sharp dribbler and will be competing with compatriot Leandro as well as Kim In-gyun for the left wing spot.

Song Chang-seok - 23, striker (Gimpo FC)

The re-signing of Song Chang-seok is an interesting one because the striker is no longer an U22 option and his goal record at K League level is one in 18 appearances. He didn't score at all for Gimpo last term and his last goal came in September 2022, playing for Daejeon B in K4. Song may come off the bench now and then but will most likely play for the B team. If Song had stayed with Daejeon then his inclusion in the first-team squad wouldn't be too much of a surprise but the fact that the club brought him back suggests they have something in mind for him. Given his size, 183cm (6 feet), with the right coaching he could blossom into an effective no.9 type.

Yoon Do-yong - 17, right winger (Chungnam Mechanical Technical High School)

A Daejeon youth prospect, Yoon Do-yong this winter put pen to paper on a semi-professional contract and has been called up to the first team. The 17-year-old is a right winger and has appeared 21 times for the Korea U17 side. With few others available, Yoon is expected to be one of Lee Min-sung's U22 options.

Kim Han-seo - 20, defensive midfielder (Jeonju University)

A product of Daejeon's under-18s, Kim Han-so signs for the club after two years in the U League with Jeonju University. He's known for his distribution, vision, and ability to utilise space and can contribute when attacking as well as defending,. He'll be one of Lee Min-sung's U22 players for the forthcoming season. 

Noh Dong-geon - 24, centre back (FC Mokpo)

Centre back Noh Dong-geon joins the club from FC Mokpo in K3 and given his age, will most likely spend the 2024 season in the B team. Daejeon have a lot of options at centre back so Noh's first-team opportunities will probably be limited. Noh is known to have a lot of pace and reads the game well, making a lot of interceptions while getting involved in the build-up. 

Back from loan

Gong Min-hyun - 33, striker (FC Anyang)

Gong Min-hyun ended the 2023 season out on loan at FC Anyang, featuring 13 times for the Violets, scoring two and assisting one. Gong has never been prolific but works hard and knows how to bring others into play. Managers like him because he follows instructions and does what's best for the team. He'll play a bit-part role this season as an experienced head off the bench or perhaps as a second striker away from home. He can also play as a 10 should Daejeon want to change their shape and set up in a 4-4-1-1 or play with one behind the main striker.

Park Jun-seo - 19, centre back (Zweigen Kanazawa)

Young centre back Park Jun-seo spent the 2023 season on loan at J3 League side Zweigen Kanazawa but didn't feature in any of the Ishikawa-based side's matches. He'll most likely play for the B team in K4.

To return

Kim Jae-woo - 25, centre back (Gimcheon Sangmu)

Centre back Kim Jae-woo is scheduled to complete his military service with Gimcheon and return to Daejeon in the summer, meaning competition for places at centre back is going to be even more fierce with Hong Jong-un, Kim Hyeon-woo, Lim Yoo-seok, Lim Dug-keun, and Aaron Calver also competing for the last spot in Lee Min-sung's back three.

First-team departures

Tiago Orobó (Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors)
Jeon Byeong-kwan (Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors)
Kim Min-duk (Gimcheon Sangmu, loan)
Yu Kang-hyun (Gimcheon Sangmu, loan)
Lee Jong-hyeon (Gimpo FC)
Kim Ji-hoon (Chungbuk Cheongju)
Masatoshi Ishida (Jubilo Iwata)
Kim Young-wook (Seoul E-Land)
Lee Jin-hyun (Free transfer)
Byun Jun-soo (Gwangju FC, swap deal with Aaron Calver)
Lee Seon-yu (Jinju Citizen, military service)

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