South Korea's pro football league office unveiled three candidates for this year's top individual award Monday.
The K League said Lee Jae-sung of Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, Johnathan Aparecido da Silva of Suwon Samsung Bluewings and Lee Keun-ho of Gangwon FC have been named candidates for the 2017 season K League Classic MVP. The winner will be announced Nov. 20.
Lee Jae-sung led his club Jeonbuk to their fifth league title last week. The 25-year-old midfielder, in his fourth season with Jeonbuk, has so far scored eight goals and bagged 10 assists in 27 matches.
|Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors midfielder Lee Jae-sung (R) dribbles past Ulsan Hyundai defenders during a K League Classic match at Munsu Stadium in Ulsan on Nov. 5, 2017. (Yonhap)|
Suwon's Brazilian striker Johnathan, as he's commonly known, is on his way to capturing the scoring title. With just one match remaining, he has netted 22 goals in 28 matches, four goals above Pohang Steelers' Yang Dong-hyun and FC Seoul's Dejan Damjanovic.
Since the K League started in 1983, the top scorer has claimed the MVP award four times. If Johnathan wins the MVP, he will be the first player to receive the top honors from both the first and second divisions. He was the MVP of the second-tier K League Challenge for the 2015 season, after winning the scoring title with Daegu FC.
Lee Keun-ho helped newly promoted Gangwon to enter the upper group in the Classic's split system. South Korea's top-tier league operates a split system in which 12 teams are divided into two groups after playing 33 matches. The teams in upper group compete for the championship and the Asian Football Confederation Champions League tickets, while the teams in lower group try to avoid relegation to second division K League Challenge.
Lee, 32, has so far collected eight goals and nine assists in 36 matches for Gangwon this season.
Meanwhile, for the Coach of the Year award, Jeonbuk boss Choi Kang-hee is up against Jo Sung-hwan of Jeju United and Kim Do-hoon of Ulsan Hyundai. Choi is looking for his fifth coaching award.
For the Young Player award, which is presented to the top South Korean-born player aged 23 or younger with under three years of professional experience, Jeonbuk defender Kim Min-jae, Ulsan midfielder Lee Yeong-jae and Seoul defender Hwang Hyun-soo were nominated. (Yonhap)