Wolves manager says club still interested in Hwang contract

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Wolves manager says club still interested in Hwang contract

Wolverhampton Wanderers striker Hwang Hee-chan celebrates after scoring a goal that was later invalidated by VAR during a match against Everton at the Molineux stadium in Wolverhampton, England on Nov. 1. [AFP/YONHAP]

Wolverhampton Wanderers striker Hwang Hee-chan celebrates after scoring a goal that was later invalidated by VAR during a match against Everton at the Molineux stadium in Wolverhampton, England on Nov. 1. [AFP/YONHAP]

 
Wolverhampton Wanderers manager Bruno Lage told reporters over the weekend that Hwang Hee-chan's hamstring injury will not impact the club's efforts to sign the Korean striker during the January transfer window.
 
“In my opinion, no,” Lage replied when asked Saturday if Hwang's ongoing injury will effect the club's efforts to try and sign him. “He is an important player for us and I am very happy with him. It is hard when you are playing and then you can’t work with your team-mates, but they know these kind of things happen.
 
“Hwang is a big professional who has a good mentality, and he will be strong.”
 
Hwang was sidelined after suffering an injury on Dec. 15 in the early stages of a Premier League clash with Brighton. He left the pitch in the 12th minute of the game after a collision with Brighton full-back Tariq Lamptey. Brighton were awarded a free kick, and Hwang attempted to continue playing but left the pitch moments later, grabbing his thigh.
 
It appeared 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.
 
It wasn't until two weeks later that Wolves gave an update on Hwang's status, announcing that he had sustained a hamstring injury and would be out of action until February.
 
The injury comes at a bad time for Hwang, who is expected to be a popular option in the current transfer window.
 
Hwang joined Wolves on loan from RB Leipzigfor the season, with the club reportedly maintaining the option to buy for around £13 million ($19 million). It quickly became apparent that a more permanent offer is likely to be on the table for Hwang, who scored four times in his first six games in the Premier League.
 
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.
 
That Wolves are still interested in Hwang certainly comes as good news for the Korean striker, but they may not be the only team in the market. Liverpool had sent scouts to watch Hwang play at the end of November, and Leicester City have also reportedly shown an interest. If none of those clubs are put off by Hwang's recent injury problems, he could end up going for a higher price.
 
The Premier League transfer window will close at midnight on Jan. 31.
 
As well as missing out on a score of Wolves games, Hwang's injury will likely take him out of Korea's next two World Cup qualifiers, against Lebanon on Jan. 27 and Syria on Feb. 1.

BY JIM BULLEY [jim.bulley@joongang.co.kr]
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