메이저놀이터 Korean players have been active in European football this summer. Kim Min-jae (Bayern Munich) and Lee Kang-in (Paris Saint-Germain), the core of the A team, have joined big clubs, while Yang Hyun-joon and Kwon Hyuk-gyu, who have already shown their competitiveness in the K League, have moved to Celtic (Scotland).
The future of Korean football is also on the rise in Europe. Kim Eun-joong-ho reached the semi-finals of the FIFA U20 World Cup.
“Hwang In-taek (20) has terminated his loan with Seoul Eland FC early and is going on a one-year loan to Estoril Praia in the Portuguese first division,” Suwon Samsung announced on the club’s social networking site on the 25th.
This means that three of the players who participated in the U20 World Cup in Argentina in June will have a chance to play in Europe this summer.
First up was Kim Ji-Soo (19, Brentford). Already on the radar of European clubs before the tournament began, Kim started all seven of South Korea’s games at the U20 World Cup and played a key role in the defence, helping the team reach the semi-finals. Kim was particularly praised for his composure in defence and his passing with both feet.
Kim eventually completed a deal with Brentford in June and has been preparing for the season with his new club since pre-season.
Bae Joon-ho on the verge of a move to Stoke City in England./ News1 ⓒ News1 Seung-bae Lee
Following Kim Ji-soo, Bae Jun-ho (20‧Daejeon), who played as an ace for the U20 national team, is also expected to move to England.
Stoke City of the English Championship (second division) had been eyeing Bae Jun-ho for some time, and after watching his performance at the U20 World Cup, they decided to sign him in earnest. According to football insiders, Stoke have offered £2 million (approximately $3.3 billion) to Daejeon Hana Citizen for Bae Jun-ho.
After making his professional debut last season, Bae has been one of the most promising youngsters in the K League this season, scoring two goals in 16 appearances in K League 1.
Bae Jun-ho’s prowess has been on display even while wearing the Taeguk mark. Despite playing in the U20 World Cup with an injury, Bae Jun-ho caught the attention of FIFA with his outstanding performance, earning praise from his adversary after the 1-2 semi-final loss to Italy.
Big European clubs were also interested in Bae, with Stoke being the most aggressive in their pursuit.
Hwang In-taek, who can play both centre and left-back, also has a chance to go to Europe. Hwang In-taek has yet to play in the K League since joining Suwon last year.
However, he has caught the eye with his performances for the U20 national team. Trusted by head coach Kim Eun-joong, Hwang In-taek was given a steady stream of opportunities from friendlies to the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup and the U20 World Cup, where he played in the centre and on the flanks.
Hwang’s loan move is on a full transfer clause, meaning he could stay in Portugal for longer than a year if he continues to perform well.
The U20s are also getting opportunities in the K League.
Lee Seung-won (Gangwon), who won the Bronze Ball at the U20 World Cup with two goals and four assists, is helping Gangwon in the race to stay up. Kim Jun-hong (Gimcheon), a former goalkeeper for Kim Eun-jung-ho, is also getting his chance. In addition, Park Chang-woo of Jeonbuk Hyundai and Kang Sang-yoon, who was loaned to Busan I-Park from Jeonbuk Hyundai, are also improving with consistent appearances.