Heung-min Son: The next ‘Shinji Kagawa’ coveted by Tottenham, Liverpool and Arsenal

Kit Holden
Heung min Son 300x225 Heung min Son: The next Shinji Kagawa coveted by Tottenham, Liverpool and Arsenal

Heung-min Son

When a player shines in the Bundesliga, it is only a matter of time before he is linked with a move to one of two destinations: Munich or England. In the case of Heung-min Son, it has been Blighty which has been more vigourously knocking on the door. In the last few weeks, Hamburger SV’s Korean starlet has been linked with just about anyone who is anyone in the Premier League. And deservedly so.

Last summer, it would have seemed unthinkable that Hamburg would be fighting to keep a player from moving to one of Europe’s top clubs. If the reports were to be believed, HSV were a club in crisis. Frank Arnesen’s revolution of the playing staff had failed, the coach and the Director of Sport couldn’t stand the sight of one another and 2012/13 was set to be the season in which the club ended its unique run of having competed in every single one of the Bundesliga’s fifty seasons.

Fast forward to the first days of spring, and HSV are banking on European football next year. After an initial burst of energy thanks to the arrival of Rene Adler and the return of Rafael van der Vaart helped them through the early season, Thorsten Fink’s side have cemented themselves in the mixer for the Champions League and Europa League spots. And while van der Vaart’s performance level may have dropped, it has been more than compensated for in the form of Son – Hamburg’s very own wonder from the Far East.

The 20 year old has scored 9 goals in the Bundesliga this season, a figure which appears a lot less modest when one examines the manner in which he scored each one. Elsewhere on the field he has been equally impressive, as efficient on the left as he is on the right, with a grace in possession which would not look out of place in the bowels of the Camp Nou, and a quiet confidence which seems, for this season at least, to be indestructible. Comparisons with Shinji Kagawa have been inevitable, and his performances this year have marked his arrival as an indispensable first team player, nearly five years after his cautious arrival in the HSV youth setup.

Such is the result of a rigid education in football, as imposed by a football coach father whose demanding nature has become a thing of legend in Hamburg. In an interview on German TV last month, Son recanted an anecdote in which his father, on a visit to Germany, forbade his son from relaxing with team mates after training, and instead put him through a gruelling workout in the gym. “I can relax a little more when he goes home, even these days”, grinned Son.

Such, also, is the result of an astonishing natural talent, and one which is coveted by the likes of United, Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal and Liverpool. Son’s agent, Thies Bliemeister, dangled a tit bit in front of the English press last week when he declared that “we are under no pressure from HSV”, but reports from Germany would suggest that Hamburg are only a few details away from securing their new superstar until 2016.

One man urging Son to complete the deal is former Spurs man Rafael van der Vaart. The Dutchman told the German press that “I think it’d be better for Sonny to stay here. I’m not just saying that because I want him to be good for us. This is the first great season of his career, and he can’t get excited and switch too soon. At big clubs, young players can often end up on the bench.”

It is not just the words of more experienced players which will be keeping Son from moving to England, though. The Bundesliga has experienced a recent influx of players from Far East Asia, with many, like Kagawa, using the league as a stepping stone towards greater things. Having been snapped up in his teens, though, Son has professed to “feeling at home in Hamburg”.  Though he may not look as comfortable in front of the television camera as he does on the football field, his fluency in German is impressive, and with HSV’s campaign for European football on solid ground at the moment, he has a handsome number of opportunities right where he is.

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  • David Larkin

    He “recanted” a story? “Recounted”, surely?
    And what’s a “tit bit”? Sounds equal parts interesting and painful. Now, if it was a tidbit, well, that’s another story

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