Ki flew back to England instead of going back to South Korea with the rest of the Korean squad after being knocked out of the World Cup, instead, he flew to Newcastle England where he signed a two-year contract to join the club before the start of the Premier League season.
There had been nothing in the news about Ki signing for Newcastle United, as he seemingly looked set to head to Italy and join AC Milan. He will become a good squad player for Newcastle and adds a good amount of Premier League experience to a squad that was sorely lacking it, whatever the reasons were for Ki not eventually signing for AC Milan has become a benefit to Newcastle as they get a solid player on a free.
Ki brings a wealth of experience to the squad
Last season, Newcastle were possibly one of a small number of Premier League sides where their players didn’t have much experience of playing Premier League football. Ki Sung-yueng is someone who will help in bringing more experience to a squad that looked like they could use more help in that department in certain games throughout the season.
Ki is in the mould of players that Rafa Benitez seems to love, hardworking and honest players who are willing to follow the instructions well. It has been seen with other Rafa signings in the past since he has been in charge, they were originally seen as underwhelming by the fans however under Rafa’s exceptional management they have become key components of a squad that exceeded all expectations last season. In a nutshell, Ki works his knackers off and Rafa likes this kind of attribute in players.
He works hard, is good on the ball, follows instructions and is a team player, with these attributes it isn’t really a surprise that Rafa has moved for him on a free transfer. After Ki decided he was going to run his contract down at Swansea and leave in the summer it seems like Rafa and Newcastle have wasted no time at all in securing his signature.
What attributes will Ki bring to the Newcastle squad?
One of the most fascinating things about Ki as a player is he brings a very peculiar skill set to the table when compared with other players. He is able to play defensively or attacking wise by utilising different aspects of this skill set.
If he is deployed defensively, then he is able to cover that space in front of the defenders by shuttling side to side and using his bulky frame to bundle players off the ball, but even though he has a bulky frame he is isn’t overly keen on flying into tackles. When deployed defensively he is more like a deep-lying passing player, with some ability to bundle attacking players off the ball, his passing isn’t up there with Jonjo Shelvey’s but not many players in England can pass the ball as well as Jonjo.
If deployed in an attacking sense, he is utilised more like an attacking playmaker. His passing is good, and he can play other attacking players through on goal, he also is great on set pieces be it free kicks or corners.
My best season was with the Jonjo
Ki said in his first interview on NUFC TV that his best season playing in the Premier League was with ‘the Jonjo’ at Swansea City. Ki claimed that the pair had the exceptional balance between them in midfield and covered each other well.
If Jonjo went forward Ki would drop deep and sit in, but if Ki went forward then Jonjo would drop in for Ki. I wouldn’t be surprised if Rafa saw this as a big positive when entering the running, and succeeding in bring Ki to the Toon.
For any Toon fans living in Korea
If you’re a Newcastle fan living in Korea, then there is a high chance that every Newcastle match will now be shown live on TV here in a similar way that they cover all of Tottenham’s matches because of Son Heung-min.
This has to be a very big Brucey Forsyth bonus if you’re a Newcastle fan working, studying or travelling in Korea, the added bonus to this is that we are all likely to at least find a functioning stream all season now, even if you do have to watch it in Korean.
Newcastle will sell more shirts in Korea
This stereotypical myth gets trundled out any time a team buys an Asian player and it’s not the case at all, the top 6 Premier League are by far the biggest teams in Asia and remain so. Man United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal et al will continue to be the most seen football shirts in Asia.
For what it’s worth Newcastle are still known by football fans throughout Asia and a lot of them know about Newcastle from the days of Alan Shearer if you ask any Asian football fans about Newcastle they’re quite well informed. They often say something like this – used to be very good, I love (or like) Alan Shearer, but now not so good. Which is an honest and pretty informed critique of how Newcastle are now?
Ki will be a squad player
Considering the form that Jonjo and big Mo showed at the back end of last season, then Ki has some work to put in before he can be considered a first-team regular. He has likely been brought in to replace Merino who has subsequently spat his dummy out it seems since Big Mo became a wrecking ball powerhouse and stole his place in the first team.
Most fans are likely to see Ki as a downgrade on Merino but if Merino wants away then Ki is an adequate replacement considering he also can pass a ball well, while at the same time keeping the transfer kitty intact
Ki becomes the first ever South Korean player to play for Newcastle United and he will no doubt be hoping to make a big impact.