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No rest for Spurs’ Son after World Cup, Asian Cup

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A grueling summer of soccer for Son Heung-min took in the World Cup in Russia, a preseason tour to the United States, then the Asian Games in Indonesia where he played six games in 18 days in stifling conditions.

[ MORE: Premier League preview: Tottenham Hotspur vs. Liverpool ]

The South Korea superstar returned to Tottenham on Wednesday with a gold medal, an exemption from military service in his home country, and likely some tired legs.

Yet, the hard work doesn’t end there.

Son is faced with the tough task of battling back into the Tottenham team, with fellow winger Lucas Moura having excelled in his teammate’s absence during the last three matches in the English Premier League.

Moura’s three goals — two of which came against Manchester United at Old Trafford — helped him win the Premier League player of the month award for August, and handed Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino something of a dilemma now Son is back.

Does Moura’s form give Pochettino the option of even giving Son a well-earned rest? After all, the winger has barely stopped since linking up with South Korea in late May for warm-up games ahead of the World Cup finals. As if he hadn’t played enough this summer, Son played almost every minute of the national team’s friendly games against Costa Rica and Chile over the past few days.

[ MORE: Key battles for Tottenham vs. Liverpool ]

It seems the 26-year-old Son doesn’t want that, though.

“Fatigue is an excuse,” Son said after the 0-0 draw with Chile on Tuesday.

Tottenham’s hectic upcoming schedule may require Pochettino to throw Son straight into action.

A home game against Liverpool on Saturday starts a run of seven fixtures in 22 days across three competitions for the London club. That includes the start of the Champions League and it’s hardly a slow introduction to the group stage: Spurs play Inter Milan and Barcelona in their first two matches.

[ MORE: Top Premier League storylines for Week 5 ]

There’s a chance Son will not start against Liverpool at Wembley Stadium – although the absence of Dele Alli because of a hamstring injury does leave an available spot in the forward line – but will return for the trip to Inter three days later.

Moura will not be easy to oust. The Brazilian has more goals than Harry Kane this season, often finding himself further forward than the England striker as he cuts in from the right wing. It seems to be a similar tactic to Liverpool, where right winger Mohamed Salah often plays in advance of central striker Roberto Firmino, who can drop deeper like Kane.

Son is coming off his best season for Tottenham, scoring 18 times in all competitions and proving as adept at filling in as a striker in the absence of Kane as playing in his usual position on the left wing.

WATCH: Son sends South Korea to Asian Games knockout rounds

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It’s safe to say the marking at the Asian Games is a step down from both the Premier League and World Cup.

Tottenham Hotspur star Heung-Min Son scored the only goal of the game as South Korea beat Kyrgyzstan on Monday to keep its gold medal hopes alive at the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia.

[ MORE: Klopp on beating Palace ]

Son did not start the first two group stage matches as South Korea battered Bahrain and lost to Malaysia, and getting a win over Monday’s opponents means a tricky Round of 16 match against Iran.

A loss would likely have Son back in England for Spurs’ next match, a big early test against Manchester United at Old Trafford.

Man City, USMNT’s Mix Diskerud loaned to South Korea

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Mix Diskerud’s fascinating career took another turn on Tuesday when the former U.S. Men’s National Team midfielder completed a move to South Korea.

[ MORE: Liverpool agrees terms for Roma keeper Alisson ]

Ulsan Hyundai has confirmed a one-year loan signing of Diskerud from Premier League side Manchester City.

The 27-year-old midfielder joined the Citizens in January following his time in MLS with Eastern Conference side New York City FC.

Diskerud spent the last two seasons on loan at IFK Goteborg in the Swedish first division, including a stint with the club in the second half of the 2017/18 season after completing the move to Man City.

With his loan to South Korea, Diskerud becomes the first Premier League player to go to the Asian country, despite not having suited up for the defending English champions.

South Korean captain signs for Newcastle United

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Ki Sung-Yueng is staying in the Premier League even as his Swansea City side joins the Championship.

South Korea’s captain is signing a two-year deal with Newcastle United. He had two goals and two assists in under 2,000 minutes for Swans last season.

[ MORE: World Cup roundtable ]

The Chronicle claims that Everton, West Ham, and AC Milan wanted to sign Ki, but the 29-year-old opted for a return to Northeast England having played on loan for rivals Sunderland.

Ki has also played for Celtic and FC Seoul, and is fresh off another stint captaining South Korea at the World Cup. Ki has 104 caps with 10 goals. From NUFC.co.uk:

“I’m so pleased I can join the club. I was always pleasantly surprised when I came to St. James’ Park to play against Newcastle – there is a great atmosphere and the passion from the fans is a great support to the players.

“Everyone knows how big this club is so I’m really looking forward to playing with my teammates and for the fans.”

Out in the group stage, but up in transfer stock

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Hyeon-woo Jo had an exceptional World Cup.

His South Korean national team did not.

But that will not stop potential suitors from seeking the 26-year-old goalkeeper who was named Man of the Match against Germany.

[ MORE: Knockout round schedule, bracket ]

And there will be many more. The 2014 World Cup saw names like DeAndre Yedlin (USMNT), James Rodriguez (Colombia), and Keylor Navas (Costa Rica) gain plenty of renown.

Here’s a list of names who’ve left the World Cup in the group stage but will certainly have their proverbial tires kicked.

Hyeon-woo Jo, South Korea (Daegu FC)

And he’s humble, to boot. From FIFA.com:

“I’ve never had a perfect game like this before, in my entire career, but I wasn’t saving all the shots by myself today – I thought the other goalkeepers [Kim] Seunggyu and [Kim] Jinhyeon were also giving me a hand.”

Salem Al-Dawsari, Saudi Arabia (Al-Hilal)

Didn’t see much time on loan at Villarreal this season, but clearly is a player not constrained to playing in his home country. The 26-year-old winger scored, averaged key passes per game, and threw in 2.3 interceptions per contest for good measure.

Kenneth Omeruo, Nigeria (Kasimpasa)

The center back registered an assist and played an all-around game for Nigeria. At 24, he should have plenty of suitors.

Lee Jae-sung, South Korea (Jeonbuk Hyundai)

If the 25-year-old midfielder’s status as the 2017 K-League Most Valuable Player hadn’t already raised some eyebrows, his job patrolling the center of the park certainly did the trick.

Ramin Rezaeian, Iran (Oostende)

The 28-year-old right-sided man can play right back or more advanced. He’s a bit longer-in-the-tooth in terms of prospect, but a club could do worse in adding depth.

Moussa Wagué, Senegal (Eupen)

A 19-year-old right back whose name was already popping up in the rumor mill, he’s going to be carrying even more interest after scoring against Japan.