Sun. Mar 26th, 2023

Image: Minnesota United

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We may be in the “Post South Korea” era of Minnesota United’s preseason striker search.

Links to multiple attackers from a South Korean team that made it past the group stage of the 2022 World Cup sparked optimism that the Loons were set to improve their goal-scoring in 2023.

Unfortunately, it looks as if both of those links are now broken.

Cho Gue-sung

Image: FIFA World/Instagram

You may know Cho Gue-sung as the “heartthrob” of this year’s World Cup.

Not only did the striker score a pair of goals in the tournament’s group stage, he gained literally millions of Instagram followers.​

Last month, MNUFC reportedly sent the 25-year old’s K League club, Jeonbuk, a $5 million bid. Scottish power Celtic and Bundesliga’s FSV Mainz 05 also had reported interest.

Now, it looks as if Jeonbuk may end up keeping their coveted attacker.

During recent media availability, Adrian Heath told reporters the acquisition is “proving to be difficult” and the Korean club are “a little reluctant” to let him go.

Hwang Ui-jo

Image: Nottingham Forest

Hwang Ui-jo is most likely a familiar name for anyone who’s paid attention to MNUFC transfer rumors over the last year, as the striker has been linked with Minnesota since the summer.

The 30-year old is currently on loan from Nottingham Forest to Olympiacos, where he’s made 11 appearances and has yet to score. Prior, the striker spent the last three seasons with Bordeaux in France’s Ligue 1, scoring 29 goals in 94 appearances.

MLS insider Tom Bogert echoed an initial report from Fabrizio Romano Monday that the South Korean national has received an offer from Chicago Fire that would make him a Designated Player, although Bogert has since updated that the Fire are now out and are moving on to other center forward options.

The Loons currently have the attacker’s MLS discovery rights, but Bogert also says the club could be willing to those to Chicago. Heath added he “seems more likely” to end up with the Fire.

Now what?

After mentioning the unlikelihood of getting either South Korean over the line, Heath indicated they aren’t the only two potential strikers Minnesota has been working to bring in.

“We just don’t have one target and think if we get him, great, and if we don’t, we don’t know what to do,” Heath said. “We’ve been looking quite extensively, not just in Korea, but all over Europe.”

Whether any of those conversations are substantial enough to get a deal done prior to the February 25th opener remains to be seen, and many European countries’ transfer windows closed Tuesday.

If the Loons are unable to bring in an outside striker until at least the summer, that means beginning the season with Luis Amarilla and Mender Garcia as your options.

Amarilla showed some impressive play in the summer last year, notching six goals and five assists in a nine-match stretch, but wasn’t the impact player most were expecting during a large portion of the year.

Garcia came on during the summer transfer window and impressed with his work-rate and chance-creation, but only mustered one goal in 10 appearances.

Another internal name to keep an eye on is Tani Oluwaseyi. There was a lot of hype after the Loons drafted the youngster last January, but he spent nearly the entire year with MNUFC2. This preseason, he found the back of the net in Minnesota’s first match, and there’s optimism Oluwaseyi can make a potential impact in 2023.

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