S. Korean stars gear up for new football seasons in England, Germany

August 6, 2015
From left -- Ki Sung-yeung, Son Heung-min and Lee Chung-yong.

From left — Ki Sung-yeung, Son Heung-min and Lee Chung-yong.

SEOUL (Yonhap) — There will be countless sleepless nights for fans of South Korean players in European football leagues, as the competitions are set to get underway this month.

The new English Premier League season will kick off on Saturday, with two South Koreans in action. The Bundesliga, the top German circuit, will follow suit on Aug. 14, with seven South Koreans.

Swansea City stalwart Ki Sung-yueng is coming off the most productive season of Premier League career, netting eight goals in 33 league matches, a record tally for an Asian player in the league.

The 26-year-old had knee surgery late last season but has been back on the field for preseason action.

Midfielder Lee Chung-yong is back in the Premier League for his first full season in three years, now competing for Crystal Palace. He was acquired in February from the second-division club Bolton Wanderers, and appeared in three matches last season.

Over in Germany, Bayer Leverkusen winger Son Heung-min will look to build on last year’s strong performance. He netted 11 goals in league play, one goal in DFB-Pokal cup competition, and five goals in UEFA Champions League. He bettered his previous career high by five.

The 23-year-old will now try to become the highest-scoring South Korean in a Bundesliga season. The legendary attacker Cha Bum-kun netted 17 goals in league action and two goals in the cup, also for Bayer Leverkusen in the 1985-86 season.

There will be six other South Koreans in the Bundesliga this season: Son’s teammate Ryu Seung-woo; midfielders Koo Ja-cheol and Park Joo-ho for Mainz 05; defender Kim Jin-su for TSG 1899 Hoffenheim; forward Ji Dong-won and defender Hong Jeong-ho for FC Augsburg.

Elsewhere in Europe, defender Yun Suk-young will be with the Queens Park Rangers in the second-tier Football League Championship in England.

Midfielder Kim Bo-kyung recently parted ways with third-division club Wigan Athletics, and is looking for a new home. He was recently denied a work permit when trying to join the second-division Blackburn Rovers.