Oh, how the mighty fall.
According to the father of Queens Park Rangers midfielder Ji-Sung Park, the 32 year old is poised to retire from football at the end of next season. Sung-jong Park said: “Nobody knows the future; maybe he could play one more year with a new team after next season. But I think [Ji-Sung] has made his mind up to retire. He thinks he’s played enough.
“He’s never had times like this with PSV Eindhoven or Manchester United. My son has had difficult times at QPR this season; it was a new experience to him. Ji-sung said it’s difficult to keep his feel for the game as his playing time is inconsistent, but he doesn’t have any hard feelings.”
To say the South Korean has struggled since signing from Manchester United in a £2m deal last summer would be an understatement. Last year at Old Trafford he scored four goals in 30 appearances in all competitions for Sir Alex Ferguson’s side. This season he’s stepped on the pitch 22 times for QPR but has yet to register a single goal. Perhaps even more shocking than the numbers is Park’s uninspiring performances for a club devoid of midfield quality.
Once a work-horse of the highest order, Park earned the moniker “Three Lung Park” from the Old Trafford faithful for his ridiculous displays of energy and stamina at United. The midfielder’s tenacity prompted Ferguson to once famously admit that it was not Cristiano Ronaldo or Wayne Rooney who gave him the most selection headaches, but rather Park.
Under the United boss’ tenure, Park made a name for himself as a big-time Champions League player. Notable performances included a man-of-the-match performance in the second leg win over Barcelona in 2008, an awe-inspiring man marking shutdown of Andrea Pirlo during the quarter finals in 2010, and a brilliant goal against Chelsea to knock the Blues out of the 2011 quarter finals.
Park will reportedly see out his two-year contract at Loftus Road, although it’s hard to foresee him regaining the fitness that made him a cult hero at Old Trafford. If QPR are relegated – and at the bottom of the barrel with 8 matches to go that looks like it will be the case – it will be sad to see Park forced to finish his career in the Championship.
What are your thoughts on Park’s retirement? Do you see him regaining the form he had at United? Is Harry Redknapp to blame for Park’s decline?
Here’s a wild rumor out of Italy, as Gianluca Di Marzio has UEFA Champions League Round of 16 sides Chelsea and Roma working out a big transfer.
[ MORE: PST chats with Dzeko in July ]
Again, before we lay it out, we know that both clubs would not be able to use Cup-tied players in the UCL and that gives the rumor its unrealistic bent.
Chelsea reportedly is willing to send $62 million and striker Michy Batshuayi on loan to Roma in exchange for Edin Dzeko and Emerson Palmeiri. Reports say Roma is holding out for another $20 million, potentially add-ons.
Dzeko isn’t producing at his otherworldly rate of last season, but is far and away i Lupi’s leading scorer and bagged a brace against Chelsea in the UCL. And Batshuayi scored in Chelsea’s first two matches of the tournament.
There is something to the rumor, at least in terms of Emerson. The London Evening Standard quotes the player’s agent as saying talks are ongoing and the move is a “dream” one for Emerson, who is behind Aleksandar Kolarov on the left back depth chart since returning from injury.
Roma would need a UCL-eligible center forward, as Czech youngster Patrik Schick has been unable to find his scoring boots since a summer move from Sampdoria. Football Italia says, sensationally, that Roma would use some of the money to pry Daniel Sturridge from Liverpool.
Maybe the Emerson move goes through, but the striker swap feels like a headscratcher for Dzeko and Chelsea.
West Bromwich Albion manager Alan Pardew is the latest to find himself baffled at the prices on the transfer market.
To be fair to the Englishman, 56, it doesn’t sound like he’s raving in ‘old man yelling at the sky’ fashion. Rather he thinks the numbers are hard for fans to gauge and perhaps it’s causing a disconnect.
[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]
And for him, at least, it’s a challenge to sort out whether the prices he’s being quoted are reasonable relative to the market. That makes sense, considering that as Newcastle boss in 2012 he sold Fraser Forster to Celtic for about $3 million and PSG bought Yohan Cabaye — then 28 — from him for $26 million.
Both fees would be a little different right now, we think (from the BBC).
“It’s difficult with the prices now to gauge what’s good value,” Pardew said. “We live in a hyper-inflated world because of the TV money received by the football clubs. Therefore, transfers and wages are going way out of kilter with real life. I think we’re all losing the plot with the figures. It’s just becoming, ‘Oh okay,’ and not even reacting to things any more.”
Now, to play devil’s advocate, if Pardew is actually just old man yelling at the sky, he’d better get out of the manager’s box. The fees aren’t changing for top clubs, which is why Jonny Evans is at risk from a Man City bid but not Newcastle United or Crystal Palace. And the TV money he talks about is going to allow clubs like WBA to hold onto players by offering better wages if they choose that route.
But it’s a fair sentiment regarding how to gauge these numbers. While it’s usually a bit laughable when fans and writers estimate whether clubs have paid too much or sold for too little, managers and administrators risk looking foolish if they agree too low or too high a fee relative to other teams.
The Washington Spirit have selected midfielder Andi Sullivan out of Stanford with the first pick in the National Women’s Soccer League draft on Thursday.
Stanford won the NCAA College Cup championship last season. Sullivan scored in the 3-2 Cardinal victory over UCLA. She also won the Mac Hermann Trophy for the nation’s best soccer player.
[ MORE: Top PL storylines — Week 24 ]
Sullivan has made seven appearances with the U.S. national team and has been called into January training camp as the team begins to prepare for World Cup qualifying in the fall.
The Spirit also had the third overall pick, which they used to select midfielder Rebecca Quinn out of Duke.
The Boston Breakers took forward Savannah McCaskill out of South Carolina with the No. 2 overall pick.
The day also featured a number of high-profile trades, including a deal between the Reign and the Royals that sent midfielder Diana Matheson to Utah in exchange for veteran defender Yael Averbuch.
New Stoke City boss Paul Lambert is tasked with shoring up a defense which has been bottom half in goals allowed for several seasons, and has made his first move.
[ MORE: Top PL storylines — Week 24 ]
Kostas Stafylidis is a 24-year-old left-sided player with 22 Greek caps to his name, but he’s fallen out of favor at Bundesliga side Augsburg and managed just 31 minutes this season.
He’ll head on loan to the Potteries, where he’ll attempt to aid the leakiest side in the Premier League. Stoke’s 50 goals allowed are eight more than its closest competitor (Watford).
Stafylidis has played left back and left mid for club and country, though he had his most league success last season at left back. He scored four goals and was rated Augsburg’s best field player by WhoScored and its top player overall by Squawka.
And he wants to be there (from StokeCityfc.com):
“As soon as I heard I told my agent directly that I wanted this move,” he added. “I left it to him then, he spoke to the Club more, and then to the trainer and we all wanted to make this move happen. It is good for me, it is good for the Club to bring me here for five months and I am very happy about that.”