Will Ki Sung-yueng of Celtic in the Scottish Premier League be the next target for England's Queens Park Ranger, which this week signed Park Ji-sung from Manchester United?
Ki has already been courted by a number of top-flight European clubs, according to British tabloids and other media. The Sun, a hugely popular British daily known for its at times outlandish gossip-mongering, reported on Thursday that, "Liverpool are lining up a 7million pound swoop for Celtic star Ki Sung-yueng. SunSport understands new Anfield boss Brendan Rodgers has the Korean high on his wish-list of summer signing targets."
However, it added that, "QPR, Rubin Kazan [in Russia] and Deportivo La Coruna [in Spain] are all keen to land the 23-year-old. There is also strong interest in Ki from Germany, with several Bundesliga clubs monitoring his situation, but Liverpool lead the way."
Ki signed a four-year deal with Celtic based on a transfer fee of 2.1 million pound in December 2009. But he struggled in the physical league in his first year and failed to net a single goal. In a shocking turnaround, he then emerged as the team's leading midfielder from the second season, scoring 11 goals in total in two seasons from 2010-2011 season.
With one and a half years remaining on his contract, he is expected to leave the club this summer before the new season starts.
The financial problems plaguing the Scottish league also shore up the credibility of rumors that Ki may be looking to make a quick exit. Celtic's main rival Rangers was expelled from the Premier League last season due to its dire financial circumstances, and this is likely to deal a blow to the league as it lost 16 million pound in broadcasting profits.
Park's new team QPR also seems to be keen on acquiring Ki. QPR Manager Mark Hughes publicly announced his desire to have the young Korean on his team during a press conference on Monday. Hughes reportedly contacted Ki when he came to Korea to meet Park last month.
However, Ki may prefer Liverpool, especially given its higher standing and his admiration for iconic midfielder and captain Steven Gerrard. In homage to the player, Ki even used the Twitter ID "Kirrard" until last year, and any offer from the Merseyside club would probably be too attractive for him to resist.
The situation will no doubt boil down to negotiations on transfer fees. Celtic recently received an offer from Rubin Kazan for Ki with a transfer fee of 6 million pound, but the negotiations broke down as Celtic demanded over 9 million pound.
"It's true that talks with QPR are in progress, but nothing has been decided yet," Ki's agent said. The transfer window in Europe is open until Aug. 31.