Yang Hyun-jun, a path to Europe… Gangwon FC “reconsidering Celtic transfer”

메이저놀이터Yang “Young-gun” Hyun-joon, 21, of professional soccer’s Gangwon FC, is one of the best prospects the K League has ever produced. He joined Gangwon in 2021 and bounced between the first team and B team in his first year, but exploded in his second year last year. A favorite of former head coach Choi Yong-soo, Yang developed into the team’s “ace” with eight goals and four assists last season. He swept the Young Player of the Year awards from both the KFA and the Korea Football Association last year and earned a call-up to the national team.

The future of Korean soccer was on the horizon for Yang Hyun-jun, and after last season, he was given the opportunity to play overseas. Minnesota United of the Major League Soccer (MLS) offered him $4.5 million (5.9 billion won), the highest transfer fee in the history of the K League. However, Lee Young-pyo, the former head coach of Gangwon, recommended that Yang Hyun-jun go to Europe instead of the United States for his future. In the end, Yang stayed with Gangwon.In the 2023 season, Yang received a call from Europe. Last month, Yang received an offer from Celtic, the top “prestige” club in Scottish professional soccer. This is the same club where Oh Hyun-kyu, 22, already plays after joining earlier this year. Celtic reportedly offered a transfer fee of €2.5 million ($3.5 billion).

However, Gangwon has put the brakes on another overseas move. The team is in 11th place (13 points) out of 12 teams in the K League 1 this season and is in danger of relegation. Their goal difference with last-place Suwon Samsung (10 points) is three. Gangwon is a city-dominant club, and their budget could be drastically reduced if they are relegated to the second division. In this situation, it was no easy task to release the team’s ace. Lee, who authorized the move to Europe, left the club, and the new president, Kim Byung-ji, didn’t see it as a good idea to let him go in the summer during the season.

“I want to go to Celtic even if I have to cut my salary,” Yang Hyun-joon said after the last two games, “and even if I try to meet with (Kim Byung-ji), he won’t let me meet with him.” The conflict came to a head when Gangwon coach Yoon Jung-hwan publicly criticized the players, saying, “I want the players who did well last year to show more dedication to the team.”

As the controversy continued, Yang Hyun-joon and Kim met on the 5th and decided to revoke the previous ‘no summer transfers’ policy. A Gangwon official said, “We weren’t unconditionally against the transfer. We also considered leaving in the winter after finding a replacement.” “We decided to talk to Celtic first. The club’s position is that if a deal is reached, he can transfer this summer.” The conflict between the club and the player who wanted to play in Europe has been resolved. All that remains is to negotiate. It will be interesting to see if they can have a beautiful parting.

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