Veteran midfielder Koo Ja-cheol to return to Jeju United
After stints in Germany and Qatar, Jeju United announced Tuesday that Koo Ja-cheol will rejoin the K League after 11 years abroad.
According to Jeju United Tuesday, veteran midfielder Koo agreed to return to the club after more than a decade, adding that they will negotiate the specifics of his contract after Koo arrives in Korea on Thursday.
Koo first started out his professional footballing career with Jeju United in 2007. After making 88 appearances and recording eight goals and 19 assists over his four years in the domestic league, Koo transferred to Bundesliga side VfL Wolfsburg in 2011.
Aside from his club career, Koo was also a regular fixture in the national team. He was not only part of the Korean squad that won the football bronze medal at the 2012 London Games, but he was also the one to score Korea's second goal in the infamous 2-0 victory over Japan in the bronze medal match. His goal came in the 56th minute, 20 minutes after Park Chu-young opened the scoring.
After spending nine years in the German league shuttling between Bundesliga clubs, Koo transferred to Qatari club Al-Gharafa SC in 2019. He also briefly played for Al-Khor SC in 2021.
This isn't the first time Jeju have reached out to Koo, as they had also contacted him earlier this January. At the time, Koo had accepted an offer from Qatari club Al-Arabi SC. However, that deal quickly fell apart ahead of the season, opening up another chance for Jeju United.
The transfer is not yet finalized as Jeju United and Koo still have to reach an agreement on his salary.
"We had already set the squad up for the 2022 season, but we decided that we desperately needed a player like Koo," Jeju United said in a statement.
"We knew that Koo was open to coming back because we kept in contact with him even when he was abroad. We needed Koo not just for what he represents in Korean football, but also to strengthen our teamwork."
The new K League season started over the weekend, with Jeju United dropping their first match of the season 3-0 against the Pohang Steelers. That match put the Steelers on top of the table and Jeju at the bottom. Jeju will next face Gangwon FC on Saturday. Koo will likely appear on the sidelines of the game against Suwon FC on March 6.
BY YUN SO-HYANG [firstname.lastname@example.org]