There he is! Photographic proof right there. Also Wenger has named him in the Carling Cup squad tonight so he must be alive. Heck we might see him kick a football tonight, wouldn’t that be something? Seriously though, the man has been on our books for two years now and I have never seen a player so shrouded in mystery at Arsenal, let alone anywhere. So what’s the deal with Park Chu-Young?
Park’s signing and the manner in which it was done only adds to the intrigue. He was half way through a medical at Lille when he stabbed them in the back and instead of completing their medical, went to London and completed a medical for us. I mean surely, for Wenger to do the mother of all hijacks you’d think this player would mean a lot to him. Apparently not.
The guy had a decent pedigree at the time. Sure, he was never going to displace Van Persie, but he had all the hallmarks of a good striker and the potential of your typical Arsenal player. He was versatile, could play right or left or as an out and out striker. He offered more technically than Bendtner with his touch and vision around the penalty area and had decent aerial ability. He was also an experienced captain of his country, a star in his native Korea. All in all it didn’t seem too bad a signing.
So how much has our South Korean friend played? A grand total of 302 minutes in all competitions, the equivalent of 3 full games and a late substitutes appearance worth in his first full season at Arsenal before he was loaned out Celta Vigo last season. Of these 302 minutes in total, a whopping 7 minutes were played in the Premier League. 7 minutes! I’m pretty sure some of our reserve players would have got more than that. He has scored one goal for us, which was against Bolton in the Carling Cup. The lack of playing time makes it hard to judge how good he really is, but you have to admit this was a sublime finish, hinting his true potential:
For Celta Vigo on loan last season, he scored only 3 times in the league in 22 appearances. Even though 14 of those were substitute appearances those numbers don’t exactly instill confidence.
What Wenger says:
Wenger has not said much at all on this topic, and to be honest I’m surprised many journalists haven’t asked why Park hasn’t played. He said the following when we signed him:
“He [Park] will add true quality to our attacking forces and will be a valuable addition to the squad.”
Then as the season progressed and Park did not play, Wenger had this to say:
“It has been difficult because I have not given him the chance to play and the intensity of the challenges – some players take short, others take long. But it takes you time. The adaptation period for him is over now so he has to come in and show he has the quality to play for us.”
“He has the quality to play for [Arsenal], and would be needed in January when Gervinho and Marouane Chamakh departed for the African Cup of Nations”
Apart from these three quotes I am yet to hear anything meaningful from Wenger on the topic. If you do find something let me know, but this is to the extent of what I could find.
So let me get this straight, in late 2011, Park has ‘finished adapting’ to English football and was ready for first team action. If this was true, why then did Wenger sign Henry on a two month loan during the period in which Park was supposedly ready to come into the team? It shows how little faith Wenger did have in Park given that he was willing to bring Henry back and give Park limited, if any, game time.
Shirt sales theory
This is a left field view of the situation, which people use to rationalise why we bought this guy, but even then it makes little or no sense. To be commercial through shirt sales, you still need to give the player reasonable game time surely? 7 minutes of Premier League action isn’t going to sell shirts I’m afraid.
The people of South Korea were unsurprisingly less than impressed. His almost complete lack of Premier League action has seen media and fans grow frustrated. Headlines in Korean newspapers asked what everyone wants to know: “Why the hell did Arsenal sign Park?”. Indeed Seoul was mooted as a possible destination for our preseason tour of 2012, but having learned of the anger of Korean fans, we were advised against it. Malaysia then replaced Seoul in the tour.
If the plan was to sell shirts and increase the supporter base in Korea than it has failed miserably as you can see. It could be argued that wehave done more harm than good to their existing Korean fan base (before Park was signed).
Interestingly though there are some arguments to support this theory. Park was primarily a Carling Cup player, but take notice of the games which he came on as a substitute. Games against Milan and Manchester United, arguably two of the biggest games in that season, with probably the biggest worldwide audience. Coincidence?
There are a number of consequences of this saga. Park no longer plays for the national team for which he was a hero and captained for so long. Latest reports are that he lives in a hotel and was training away from the team. This looks to have improved however, with him finally appearing to train with his team mates. Arsenal are still paying him £45,000-a-week for doing the best part of nothing.
After researching this topic far and wide, I’m left with more questions than answers. Every theory mooted contradicts itself and the fact that he hasn’t been sold by now is just baffling. Even if Wenger saw something so bad in him in the first day of training that put him off Park forever, why hasn’t he been sold yet?
The military service stuff (which has now been postponed another 10 years thankfully) didn’t help our preparations initially, but then why did we sign a player with this baggage in the first place?
If you ask me, this is probably a case of Wenger realising he made a big mistake very early on (even though the player appeared to have great pedigree), and then not being able to offload him due to our wage structure. I think that’s the only rational explanation that I can think of.
Still, I don’t feel right as a fan if he have to let this guy go. We haven’t even seen him play! I don’t even know him! How is this fair on Park, when flops like Santos, Squillaci and other deadwood actually played and cost us games? Park hasn’t even played, and is only costing us off the pitch. He should be given a chance on it. I for one would love to see him play ahead of Bendtner tonight, but it looks like Wenger will start the self proclaimed best striker in the world. Anyway I hope it works out for Park, whether it be here or elsewhere, he seemed like a decent player when he joined and its not right for us to keep him if we aren’t going to play him.
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