The Korea Herald


Sonny seeking redemption with Spurs; Kim Min-jae, Lee Kang-in looking to make mark on new clubs

By Yonhap

Published : Aug. 11, 2023 - 10:36

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Tottenham Hotspur's Son Heung-min celebrates scoring the team's fourth goal, September 17, 2022 (Reuters-Yonhap) Tottenham Hotspur's Son Heung-min celebrates scoring the team's fourth goal, September 17, 2022 (Reuters-Yonhap)

Former Golden Boot winner Son Heung-min will try to redeem himself in the new Premier League season kicking off on the weekend, while a pair of other South Korean stars will look to make their mark on their new clubs in new leagues.

Son and Tottenham Hotspur will open the 2023-2024 season at Brentford at 2 p.m. Sunday, or 10 p.m. Sunday in Seoul time.

After winning the Premier League scoring title with a career-best 23 goals in the 2021-2022 season for Tottenham Hotspur, Son slumped to 10 goals in the injury-plagued 2022-2023 campaign.

Son suffered facial fractures in November 2022 and then dealt with sports hernia in May 2023, the two injuries bookending one of his least productive Premier League seasons.

The 10-goal output was the second-fewest total for Son since joining Spurs for the 2015-2016 season. At times last season, Son struggled to find space to roam under the defensive-minded coach Antonio Conte.

Son will be playing for a new bench boss in Ange Postecoglou, who has vowed that Spurs will play exciting, attacking and aggressive football on his watch.

Son may have to do so without his longtime partner Harry Kane, who has been linked to Bayern Munich.

If the move is finalized, Kane will have another South Korean teammate in Germany -- center back Kim Min-jae.

Kim had a banner year for Napoli last season, helping the Italian club to their first Serie A title in 33 years and being named the league's best defender. He parlayed that into a move to Bayern Munich in July for a reported transfer fee of 50 million euros.

After earlier stops in China, Turkey and Italy, Kim signed for Bayern Munich, the most successful club in Bundesliga history. They have won 33 domestic league titles, including the past 11 in a row, along with a slew of trophies at domestic cup and continental competitions.

Bayern Munich's first match of the season will come at the German Super Cup against RB Leipzig at 8:45 p.m. Saturday in Munich, or 3:45 am. Sunday in Seoul. Their new Bundesliga campaign kicks off next week.

Kim will be one of three South Koreans in the Bundesliga, alongside Lee Jae-sung of Mainz 05 and Jeong Woo-yeong of VfB Stuttgart.

Another prominent South Korean player switched clubs in Europe this summer, with flashy midfielder Lee Kang-in leaving RCD Mallorca in Spain to join Paris Saint-Germain in France.

PSG have dominated the top French league, to the tune of nine titles in the past 11 seasons. No club has lifted more trophies in France than PSG's 47.

Lee has joined such superstars as Kylian Mbappe and Neymar, though both players are said to be on their way out of Paris. PSG have already lost Argentine legend Lionel Messi earlier in the summer.

The absence of these attacking stars could mean an increased role for Lee, whose best attributes are passing skills and creativity. PSG will open the new Ligue 1 season against Lorient at 9 p.m. Saturday in Paris, or 4 a.m. Sunday in Seoul.

There are more South Korean players all over Europe this season.

Hwang Hee-chan of Wolverhampton Wanderers will be entering his third season in the Premier League, hoping to stay healthier than the last campaign.

Brentford signed the 18-year-old defender Kim Ji-soo in the summer, though the center back may spend some time with the "B" squad than the Premier League side this season.

Scottish champions Celtic FC, whose season began last week, employ three South Koreans, with forward Oh Hyeon-gyu, who signed in January this year, joined by Yang Hyun-jun and Kwon Hyeok-kyu this summer. Oh, however, has been ruled out for up to six weeks with a calf injury.

Former K League 1 scoring champion Cho Gue-sung left Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors to sign for FC Midtjylland in Denmark last month. The forward has netted three goals in his first three matches for the Danish side already.

A pair of South Korean internationals, Hwang In-beom and Hong Hyun-seok, will ply their trade with Olympiacos FC in Greece and KAA Gent in Belgium, respectively. (Yonhap)