Some of football's generational talents have been hyped about since they were children. Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappé and Erling Haaland have been regarded as child prodigies in the sport; they have all grown up to be world-class players since then. Another young man from South Korea was in the spotlight around this time - and you may suprised to hear that it is not Son Heung-min.
Midfielder Paik Seung-ho has been in the spotlight for nearly all of his life. Ever since he was a small child, football scouts from Europe have been keeping a close eye on him and monitoring his progress. The attention resulted in a footballing journey that only few can dream of, playing for Barcelona's academy and meeting some of his football heroes along the way. He has embraced playing with and against some of the world's best players, but he now has settled for more humble choices in his career path.
Paik has played in his homeland for the last two years, and he is expected to move back to Europe this winter. Korean football journalists have written that he needs a second chance to play in a European country, but no club has shown an interest at the time of publication. West Ham United may wish to look into him as an extra midfield option.
Place of Birth
Seoul, South Korea
Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors
1x K League 1, 1x Korean FA Cup, 1x Asian Games
Paik Seung-ho first caught the eye of junior football coaches in Korea while he was an elementary school student. He scored 30 goals in 18 games for a Weekend League team and was soon invited to play at a tournament in Barcelona with the South Korea U14 team. After he had returned to Korea, he accepted a contract with Barcelona and relocated to Spain. He became the first South Korean to play for the iconic club.
Although he got to train with players such as Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, Paik did not break through with Barcelona B and left to join Peralada in 2017. The club - which acts as the reserve team for Girona - gave him more game time and first-team opportunities, something that Girona could not offer in the long term. This prompted him to move to Germany and play for Darmstadt 98, and he later moved back to his homeland to play for Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors.
Paik notably scored one of the highlight goals during the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. He struck a 30-yard volley against Brazil, having come on as a substitute earlier in the match.
STYLE OF PLAY
Paik is a cautious, level-headed midfielder who shows a high level of calmness when he has the ball. He enjoys having the ball at his feet, aiming to make key passes and breaking up plays with his tackling. Although he lacks the energy and occasional athelticism to play in an advanced role, he stays central to the midfield and plays his best football from this position.
Paik has been used as Jeonbuk's set piece specialist for the majority of his time at the club. He takes penalties and free kicks, and he has taken corners. Set pieces and close-up efforts have attributed to most of his goals and assists throughout his careers, which has allowed his coaches to improve his crossing ability.