Ki Sung-yueng's Bid to Return to K-League Fails

  • By Kim Eun-gyeong

    February 12, 2020 10:34

    Midfielder Ki Sung-yueng's plan to return to the K-League appears to have been thwarted by contractual difficulties.

    Ki has been negotiating with some K-League clubs since he left Newcastle United in the English Premier League early this month.

    Ki's agency said on Tuesday, "We have notified FC Seoul and Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors that we are ending negotiations. Ki won't return to the K-League this season unless something extraordinary comes up." He is now in negotiations with several clubs overseas, it added.

    Ki Sung-yueng /Yonhap

    Ki joined FC Seoul in 2006 and made his professional debut the following year. In 2009, he moved to Celtic FC in the Scottish Premiership on a transfer deal worth 2 million pounds and spent the following decade in Europe. He played for Swansea City in the EPL, was loaned briefly to Sunderland and eventually joined Newcastle United, which he left on Feb. 1 after terminating his contract by mutual consent.

    Although Ki has attracted interest from several clubs in China and the Middle East since becoming a free agent, he first contacted FC Seoul, as he wished to return home. But he was disappointed by the club's offer and no deal was reached.

    He next turned to Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, which initially made him a strong offer. However, it later backed out when it learned that his 2009 transfer contract from FC Seoul to Celtic included a provision requiring Ki to rejoin the Seoul club when he returns home, or pay it a penalty of W2.6 billion (US$1=W1,184).

    Jeonbuk said, "This is not a transfer fee. Paying such a hefty penalty would set a bad precedent."

    FC Seoul later offered a better deal but Ki notified both clubs that he was breaking off the negotiations. "He thought his return could be disruptive to the K-League," his agency said.

    "He is very disappointed with how things have worked out. He also feels sorry for fans who were expecting his return," it added.

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