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scouting

Busan IPark 2022 Player Profiles


Busan IPark coach Ricardo Peres has assembled an exciting young squad as the Royals gear up for another challenge for the K League 2 title. With big-name stars like An Byong-jun and Kim Jin-kyu alongside a host of exciting youngsters like Park Jeong-in and Lee Tae-min, Busan look well positioned to make a charge for promotion. Tomas Marcantonio takes a closer look at Busan’s class of 2022.

(Image courtesy of Busan IPark)


Squad Overview

 

Goalkeepers

1. Koo Sang-min (30 years old - GK)
{2021: 1 app, 2 goals conceded}
Still best known for scoring directly from a goal kick back in 2014, Koo Sang-min is well regarded by Busan fans after a stellar season with the club in 2016. He was low in the pecking order after returning from military service last summer, however, and could struggle for game time behind new signing Jeon Jong-hyuk. One of the few Korean keepers who will always catch high balls if possible.

13. Ahn Joon-soo (24 - GK)  
{2021: 15 apps, 23 conceded, 2 clean sheets}
A regular in the Korean youth teams for years, Ahn is known for his solid distribution, which coach Peres holds in high regard. His shot-stopping and concentration are less heralded, however; Ahn was guilty of a few glaring errors last season, and he is likely to start the season on the bench.

29. Jin Pil-rip (21 - GK)  *U22 Player
A former midfielder, Jin is yet to make his Busan debut and likely to be fourth-choice keeper.

*NEW SIGNING*
91. Jeon Jong-hyuk (25 - GK)
{2021: 16 apps, 23 conceded, 5 clean sheets for Bucheon 1995}
First choice on loan at Bucheon last season until Choe Cheol-won’s return from military, Jeon joins Busan from Seongnam in a trade with former Busan keeper Choe Pil-su. A solid shot stopper, Jeon could be the long-term solution to Busan’s goalkeeping problem.

Defenders

*NEW SIGNING*  
3. Choi Ye-hoon (18 - LB)  *U22 
Reportedly turned down offers from K1 teams to join Busan, and he could go straight into the starting eleven after Park Min-gyu’s departure. Quick and eager to join attacks, Choi also boasts a wicked set-piece delivery with his left foot.

*NEW SIGNING* 
5. Hong Uk-hyeon (18 - CB)  *U22
New teenage centre back is a Busan youth team product and one for the future.

6. Valentinos Sielis (31 - CB/LB/CDM) 
{2021: 24 apps, 1 goal}
Like many of Busan’s central defenders in 2021, Valentinos’ performances were consistent only in their inconsistency. The Cyprus international is a vocal defensive organiser and very strong in the air, but Busan will hope for more stability and better distribution from their experienced back line leader.

15. Lee Chung-woong (28 - CB/CDM)  
{2021: 9 apps for Siheung Citizen; 3 apps for Busan IPark}
Lee returned to Busan in the second half of last season after finishing his military service with Siheung. Having joined the club in 2015, he is one of Busan’s longest-serving players and will provide useful defensive cover.

*NEW SIGNING* 
19. Park Se-jin (26 - RB/RM/LB)  
{2021: 33 apps, 4 assists for Chungnam Asan}
One of Asan’s most consistent performers last season, Park is a solid right back, but it remains unclear where he slots into this team given Choi Jun’s performances last season. Versatile and now entering his peak years, Park looks like a very shrewd signing for the squad.

*NEW SIGNING* 
20. Cho Wi-je (21 - CB)  *U22
Centre back was named in the Korean U23 training camp shortly after signing with Busan, and could make a push for a first team place.
 
27. Ku Hyun-jun (28 - LB/CB)  
{2021: 5 apps for Siheung Citizen; 1 app for Busan IPark}
Ku was largely overlooked by Peres last season after returning from military service. Having been on Busan’s books since 2012, however, only Park Jong-woo has a longer association with the Royals. A solid all-round left back, Ku could still have something to offer after Park Min-gyu’s departure leaves a hole on the left of defence.
 
35. Park Ho-young (22 - CB/CF)  
{2021: 27 apps}
A huge defender with outstanding aerial prowess, Park was imperious in several matches last season. Unfortunately his lack of pace made him a target for faster forwards, and he has a tendency to make clumsy challenges. A massive asset in certain games, but a possible weak link in others.
 
45. Hwang Jun-ho (23 - CB)  
{2021: 25 apps, 2 goals, 1 assist}
Hwang looked to be on his way out of the club before coach Peres made him a key part of last season’s defence. A big, physical central defender, Hwang was not without mistakes last year, but a number of towering performances made him one of Peres’ success stories. Much improved.
 
48. Choi Jun (22 - RB/LB) 
{2021: 30 apps, 2 goals, 4 assists}
Named in the K2 team of the season last year, Choi Jun is a marauding right back who is often one of Busan’s most dangerous outlets going forward. The defensive side of his game is still a work in progress, but few full backs in Korea were as productive in the final third last season. His drilled crosses in particular are a joy to watch, and Paulo Bento will surely be keeping an eye on him.

Midfielders

4. Ryan Edwards (28 - CM/CAM/RB)  
{2021: 16 apps}
The diminutive Australian is a busy midfielder who presses tirelessly and keeps things ticking over. Arrived halfway through last season and impressed individually, albeit as part of a disjointed and disappointing midfield unit. Will hope to contribute more this year, but that may depend on tactics and team cohesion.

8. Park Jong-woo (32 - CDM/CM/CB)  [CAPTAIN]
{2021: 6 apps}
Captain Park is highly respected around the club, but two injury-hit seasons have limited his impact on the pitch recently. A tenacious tackler and natural leader, Park played for Korea under four different managers and has a wealth of experience at home and abroad, including a league title with Al Jazira, an Olympic medal, and ACL experience with three different clubs. Vital when fit.

10. Lee Sang-heon (23 - CAM/RW/CM)  
{2021: 33 apps, 3 goals, 3 assists}
The former Jeonnam and Ulsan player was largely utilised on the right side of a front three last season, though he often looked more effective centrally. Showed flashes of quality with link-up play in the final third, and a more consistent end product would make him a very valuable asset.

14. Kim Jeong-hyun (28 - CDM/CM/CB)  
{2021: 25 apps, 1 assist}
A tough and wily defensive midfielder who specialises in breaking up opposition play, Kim is also one of Busan’s most composed players on the ball. Not a guaranteed starter, but a dependable performer.

17. Kim Jung-min (22 - CM/CAM)  
{2021: 13 apps}
Kim made his full international debut at the age of 19 and joined Busan after spells in Austria and Portugal. Struggled to make a telling impact after joining on loan last summer, but has undoubted potential and will hope to carve out a role for himself in the team this year.

*NEW SIGNING - LOAN*
22. Lee Kang-hee (20 - CDM/CB/CF) *U22  
A tall, versatile youngster who can provide cover in a number of central positions. Appeared for Suwon Bluewings in the FA Cup last year but yet to make his K League debut.

23. Kim Jin-kyu (24 - CAM/CM/LW)  
{2021: 27 apps, 4 goals, 2 assists}
Busan’s star playmaker made an instant impact with Paulo Bento’s Korea team, scoring and assisting on his full international debut and adding a second goal a few days later. Royals fans have known about Kim’s quality for years – he scored his first K League goal back in 2015 at the age of 18. Kim has an excellent passing range and specialises in linking up with the front line. Versatile, intelligent, and now reaching his peak years.

*NEW SIGNING - LOAN*
24. Kang Yun-gu (19 - CAM/RW/CM) *U22  
{2021: 7 apps for Ulsan Hyundai}
Teenager Kang is a left-footed playmaker who featured prominently for Ulsan in the early stages of last season. Confident on the ball and has an eye for a pass, Kang looks like a real talent for the future.
 

Forwards

7. Domagoj Drožđek (25 - LW/RW/CF)  
{2021: 32 apps, 1 goal, 2 assists}
Croatian winger Drožđek started his debut K League season excellently, but a goal drought visibly affected his confidence and decision making as the year wore on. Ultimately he was unfortunate with numerous near misses and disallowed goal involvements, but Drožđek has all the skills to succeed in Busan, including quality set-piece delivery and admirable work ethic. A fast start to 2022 could kickstart a more productive year this time around.

9. An Byong-jun (31 - CF)  
{2021: 34 apps, 23 goals, 4 assists}
At times An almost single-handedly kept Busan in the top half of the table last season. The North Korean striker can score with both feet and from all angles and ranges, and his ability to win free-kicks and hold up the ball is vital for relieving pressure. K League 2 MVP two years in a row.

11. Park Jeong-in (21 - CF/LW/CAM) *U22
{2021: 29 apps, 8 goals, 3 assists}
Korea U23 international Park had an impressive debut season with Busan last year, showing a great poaching instinct to net eight league goals. With An Byong-jun spearheading the attack, Park often features on the wing, where he is less consistently impactful. Peres will no doubt continue to develop the young forward, however, and another fruitful season beckons.

*NEW SIGNING*
18. Kim Chan (21 - CF) *U22  
{2021: 25 apps, 1 goal, 1 assist for Chungnam Asan FC}
Three goals in 56 league appearances might not make appealing reading for a striker, but there are few U22 players in Korea who come with more first team experience. Peres will look to make use of Kim’s hold-up play and offer Busan a different option in attack.

30. Lee Tae-min (18 - RW/LW) *U22  
{2021: 16 apps}
Busan’s most exciting prospect since Lee Dong-jun, Lee Tae-min is a quick and direct winger who plays with the confidence of a much older player. He has a reckless edge which earned him four yellow cards last season, but it’s his ability on the ball which gets Busan fans purring. One to watch.

44. Seong Ho-young (23 - LW/RW)  
{2021: 8 apps}
Was given a few chances last season but never truly made an impact. Now no longer an U22 option, likely to struggle for game time.

77. Jung Hoon-sung (27 - RW)  
{2021: 6 apps, 1 goal for Busan; 1 app for Jeju United}
Speedy winger started last season with Busan before being loaned out to Jeju, only to make one substitute appearance for the Islanders. Has bags of pace and trickery, but often frustrates with his end product.
 

Coach

Ricardo Peres 
The jury is still out on the Portuguese coach after a disappointing first season in charge. Peres did a commendable job with the young players in Busan’s squad, but many fans were disgruntled by slow football, a porous defence, and an overwhelming dependence on An Byong-jun. It didn’t help that both Busan’s football and results seemed to get worse in the second half of the season, and it was often hard to pinpoint signs of progress. A charismatic manager with admirable philosophies, but needs a genuine promotion challenge this time around.

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