Park Makes Monaco Move

Park Chu-young

The week before the transfer window closes is always a busy one. This year it slammed shut on the evening of September 1. Clubs had to buy players before then or they are doomed to wait until January before they can add to their rosters. It can be frantic.

That wasn’t the case for South Korean players until last week – it had been quiet, too quiet. Sure enough, that changed in dramatic fashion. It started with reports that Park Chu-young, one of the biggest stars in Korean football, was on his way to England’s Premier League with Wigan Athletic and ended with him jetting off to the Mediterranean on Sunday morning to join seven-time French champion AS Monaco. In the meantime, Lee Young-pyo left Tottenham for Borussia Dortmund.

Park Chu-young’s move was more of a saga than Lee’s smooth transfer across the North Sea. The 2004 Young Asian Player of the Year looked set to stay with FC Seoul until next season at least. That became less likely when on August 24 after watching his Wigan team lose to Chelsea in the Premier League, coach, and former Manchester United captain, Steve Bruce confirmed that he was interested in the 23 year-old.

“Yes, we are looking at him, but there is no deal yet,” Bruce said. “My general manager is out there at the moment, having a look. He played yesterday …It is a possibility and there might be something happening.”

Wigan wanted a loan and possible sponsorship deals, Seoul wasn’t interested. Just as that move became dead in the water, another one emerged deep from the depths. It turned out that Park’s people had been talking to AS Monaca since April. The French club’s Brazilian coach Ricardo knew of Park from when the player spent a year in the South American country.

Unlike Wigan, Monaco, runner-up in the 2004 UEFA Champions League, was prepared to pay around $3 million in order to sign the player on a four-year contract. But even on Saturday evening, Park was playing for club FC Seoul in a 3-1 win over Gwangju Sangmu. Just 12 hours after the end of the match however, the taciturn striker was boarding an Air France jet bound for Paris.

“It has happened so fast so it is a little hard to take in at the moment,” Park told reporters at Incheon International Airport.” I don’t want to say too much but I am looking forward to it.”

“I think it is a good team and I think it is good first team in Europe for me.

Monaco chairman Jerome de Bontin was happy with the capture: "We had been in contact with his club for several months and we are very happy he has joined us."
The club’s Brazilian coach Ricardo knew of Park as the striker spent a year in South America as a teenager.

"He is a centre forward, very comfortable right in front of goal. He will need a little time to adapt to our league but I hope he will manage that quickly."

Monaco lifted the last of its seven championships in 2000. In recent seasons, the club has been languishing in the middle reaches of the league. The club hopes that Park, who has scored nine goals in 27 games, can help shoot the team back to the top.

“I have to do my best and it will be great if it goes well.”

That is now up to the player but for South Korea and the media, it is another player in a big European league. There will be lots of curious eyes on Park in the principality to see just how good he really is.

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Copyright: John Duerden &


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