The player wants to play in Europe and the club needs to avoid relegation.
Yang Hyun-jun and his club Gangwon FC are in a conflict. It’s all about qualifying for Europe. After the Hana One Q K League 1 20th Round match between Gangwon and Incheon United ended in a 0-1 defeat for the latter, Yang’s interview was published. The player himself said, “If the transfer fee is not enough, I would like to take a cut from my salary to go to Celtic,” and expressed his desire to join Celtic.
It was recently reported that Celtic wanted Yang Hyun-joon and offered €2.5 million in transfer fees, not unlike the £3 million Oh Hyun-gyu who joined Celtic for £4 million in January. Considering that Yang is a young player, born in 2002, this is a bold move and shows that the club wants him badly.
Despite his wishes, Yang Hyun-jun is clearly a Gangwon player. It makes sense that the club would want to hold on to a player who was one of the best performers in the league last season. Furthermore, Gangwon has been suffering from a severe “goal drought” this season. After 20 league games, they are last in the league with 12 goals. That’s five fewer goals than last-place Suwon Samsung (17).
Things have been difficult for Gangwon. Dino, a 2022 signing, was released from his contract last month after failing to perform due to injuries, and the club was left without a proper frontline option. They signed Brazilian striker Yago on January 1, but he needs time to adjust to the team and the league. There’s also the challenge of adapting to a different atmosphere after a recent managerial change.
In the midst of an excruciatingly difficult season, Gangwon must now worry about relegation if they lose their ace, Yang Hyun-joon, in the summer transfer window. The 11th-ranked Gangwon have just two wins in 20 games (13 points) and are only three points behind 12th-ranked Suwon Samsung (10 points). These are two teams whose positions could change at any moment.
Former Gangwon president Lee Young-pyo once said, “Yang Hyun-joon had the highest offer in the history of Korean soccer, but it was from the United States, not Europe. From a business perspective, we should have sold him. But I disagreed. He’s an asset to Gangwon, but he’s also an asset to Korean soccer. He should be sent to Europe.” He also supported Yang’s move to Europe. 안전놀이터
Lee Young-pyo said, “Even if he gets paid less, he is a player who should go to Europe. Fortunately, Yang Hyun-joon is not swayed by these things and remains silent for his dream.”
However, in December 2022, after Lee stepped down and CEO Kim Byung-ji took over, things went south. Yang waited and believed in Lee’s words, but his hopes were dashed when the former president left the club.
Yang expressed his desire to resolve the matter quickly, saying, “Celtic won’t wait for me forever,” and “I think I need to resolve it quickly and prepare within this week no matter what.” However, according to Gangwon officials, no concrete talks have yet taken place between Yang and the club.
It will be interesting to see how this unfortunate conflict between a young player who has received the European attention he has never received in his life, and a club that needs to avoid relegation immediately, will be resolved.