The news yesterday that Minnesota had thrown their hat into the ring over the signing of Korean star Cho Gue-Sung was, on the surface of it, not what any of us wanted to hear. But the word from abroad is that he still favours a move to Europe and he’s right to do so. Which means, at the moment, that it will be a move to Celtic Park.
For the player, who sees Europe as his priority, the advantages of a move to Celtic are obvious. He can come here, grow as a footballer, prove that he can handle the European game and move on to a club on the continent, or in England, when the time is right. It’s as simple as that, and from the point of view of getting noticed this is a good place to be.
For his club there is a similar incentive. Celtic has a good history not only of selling people on but of doing so for a big profit. If he comes here, his club knows they can insert a whacking great sell-on fee into the deal and a further future transfer fee on top of that. This means that whatever the Americans are offering gets blown out by what Celtic can provide them.
It’s not out of the question that the Koreans can double, or even treble, what they would get if they sold him to the MLS team just because they might be offering more in the here and now. Both the player and his club need to think beyond the present horizon.
I think both of them will be. Park Ji Sung is in London talking to us because he knows that this is the kind of stuff that will matter. Doubtless the player’s own agent would prefer someone more high profile, but he has to be realistic; for many in the game, the World Cup would have been the first time they heard of this guy … top scorer in the Korean League does not, in and of itself, get you a huge move to a huge club.
There is a long way to go on this deal I think. It won’t be done in a couple of days if it’s done at all, and at some point the club will walk away from the table if they think it’s going to drag on, but we should not panic and assume the worst if it’s taking a little longer than others did. This is the biggest choice this kid has had to make in his life and there are complicated elements to it – like his image rights and other stuff – which haven’t been part of other deals.
So is this a case of “good things come to those who wait?” On balance, I think we’re now pretty likely to get this one over the line, but until the contracts are signed something can always go wrong which is why the quicker the better.
We also have an unsettled player in Giorgios Giakoumakis, and that too needs to be resolved pretty quickly. So whilst we won’t force a decision and shouldn’t try to, it would be remiss of us not to point out that we have other targets and that there is a limit to how long we’ll wait. If the player’s agent is waiting for the phone to ring from Barcelona, he’ll be waiting a while and we’ll have gone long before he gives up and gets real.