Hwang leaves Wolves game early with possible hamstring injury
Wolverhampton Wanderers forward Hwang Hee-chan suffered an injury in the early stages of a Premier League clash with Brighton on Wednesday, potentially taking him out of action just weeks before the January transfer window.
Hwang left the pitch in the 12th minute of Wednesday's game after a collision with Brighton full-back Tariq Lamptey. Brighton were awarded a free kick and Hwang attempted to play on, but left the pitch moments later grabbing his thigh.
Wolves went on to win the game at the American Express Community Stadium in Brighton, with a late first-half goal from Romain Saiss sealing the deal for the midlands squad.
Wolves have made no further announcement about Hwang's injury as of press time, although it appears from replays of the incident that Hwang's toe may have got stuck in the ground, causing a brief hyperextension, likely leading to a hamstring injury. Whether he'll miss more than Wednesday's game remains unclear.
If Hwang is out of action, it couldn't come at a worse time for Wolves. The club is already missing Jonny Castro Otto, Yerson Mosquera and Pedro Neto, with a question mark over both Hwang and Rayan Ait-Nouri. With a big game against Chelsea this Sunday rapidly approaching, manager Bruno Lage will be scrambling to field a strong squad.
After a dramatic arrival in the Premier League in September, Hwang has been going through an offensive cold snap in recent games. Wednesday's short appearance marks his seventh straight game without a goal, a disappointing statistic for a player who scored four in his first six games.
The dry spell also comes at a bad time for Hwang's career, with the January transfer window now just two weeks away. Hwang joined Wolves on loan for the season, with the club reportedly maintaining the option to buy Hwang for around £13 million ($19 million), and it quickly became apparent that a more permanent offer is likely to be on the table in January.
A goalless run and an injury immediately before talks begin certainly won't be the impression that Hwang was hoping to make.
Hwang, who is known as The Bull for his relentlessly aggressive style of play, has quickly become a fan favorite, with pundits also heaping praise on the forward each week. The fact that Hwang has a very different approach to countryman Son Heung-min of Tottenham Hotspur — relying on strength and persistence rather than speed and agility — has only added to the interest.
According to Football Insider, sources at Wolverhampton say the club is keen to buy Hwang in January. But in order to facilitate a deal, the club would likely need to sell another reasonably big-ticket player to raise the funds for Hwang.
The deal could end up costing much more than expected. Just because Wolves have the option to buy Hwang for around £13 million doesn’t stop RB Leipzig from accepting a higher offer for him.
That would trigger a bidding war, and Wolves could face some pretty tough opposition — Liverpool have also sent scouts to watch Hwang play in recent weeks.
If other clubs throw their hat into the ring as well — and Leicester City are reportedly also among the clubs showing an interest — Wolves could really struggle to keep Hwang on the squad going into the second half of the season.
BY JIM BULLEY [email@example.com]