Celtic are now the favourites to complete the signing of South Korea’s forward Cho Gue-sung, according to reports in his homeland. This comes amidst further debate about Giorgios Giakoumakis, about whom rumours continue to swirl.
We have competition for the Korean. Of course we do. He had an excellent World Cup and looks certain to get a move to a European club. He’s also well within our price range, which means that he’s well within the price range of other sides too.
It is obvious that this guy hasn’t just emerged as a target lately. He was on our radar before the World Cup, he had to be. The next obvious step for us over there was the Korean market and he’s the top scorer in their league and clearly a superb talent … it would be great to think we’d get this lad, and in particular with his profile being sky-high.
(Not many footballers are on the cover of Vogue. Can you imagine The Trailer Park Serial Killer posing for anything other than a True Crime magazine? Morelos? Jesus, it’s almost unthinkable. He looks like he needs to get in touch with Man V Fat right away.)
So the combination of his skill-set, his global profile and his low transfer fee makes this a difficult battle to win for us, but we are a progressive club who want to play the game in the right way, and the Asian players already at Parkhead might make it a bit easier a decision to make, not to mention Ange’s familiarity with that part of the world.
This strongly suggests that we do have a really good chance here, although whether that translates into doing the deal remains to be seen. Reading the comments from the player and his father, this isn’t a guy primarily focussed on cash right now in his career but in a healthy evolution as a player. We have proven ourselves adept at that sort of development, which can only make us an attractive prospect for someone his age and with his experience level.
According to The Record, also picking up its information from a foreign source, he is not the only target. In keeping with how we do things now, in having a Plan A and then several backup options, we are still exploring alternatives and the one they mentioned this morning is the Slovakian Ladislav Almasi; we allegedly looked into buying him this summer.
He, too, would cost us around £2.5 million, so he’s well within the effective price range for the club and he’s another young comer with full international honours. He plays in the Czech top flight, where he has five goals in the first seven games of this campaign … and he is 6’5 and so clearly fits the more physical profile we need as an option for certain games.
They are both very good options, and whilst Almasi is a year younger and arguably plays at a higher level, Cho Gue-sung has the better scoring record and is a much more dynamic striker with more international goals, including a couple at the World Cup Finals.
So this is another exciting development for our club. If we really are determined to bring a striker in for this window, I’m obviously excited about these two names, although I am acutely aware that Giakoumakis came here with a better pedigree as the top scorer in the Dutch League in the year before we brought him to Celtic Park.
Here’s the thing though. Before that season at VVW Venlo, when he suddenly caught our eye, there really wasn’t much to inspire clubs to come and sign him. His scoring record before that was patchy and not exactly inspiring. On the back of that campaign, we went out and got him. But he was 27, and you wondered where he’d been prior to that.
Indeed, I remain Graham Spiers applauding Celtic’s aggressive move for a player who had topped the scoring charts in that league, even as he wondered why at 27 he wasn’t already a household name. It’s a question I’m sure a lot of us have asked since.
So we aren’t getting an Eredivisie top scorer in either player … but someone who is younger, perhaps hungrier and stands a chance of reaching a summit Giakoumakis probably won’t get to, and everyone who reads this blog knows how much I love the big guy.
All I know is that any despondency I feel over losing him will be tempered by questions, and the possibility of some other footballer on our list answering them instead.
This really is a great time to be a Celtic fan, and I’m enjoying every second of it.