Loons make official the addition of attacker Jeong Sang-bin
MNUFC will pay an approximately $2.5 million transfer fee to acquire the 20-year-old attacker on a permanent transfer.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota United has held an affinity for South Korean players for years, and the club was able to announce the addition of Jeong Sang-bin on Wednesday.
The Loons acquired Jeong as attempts to bring other Koreans were unsuccessful, including more-experienced forwards Hwang Ui-Jo and Cho Gue-Sung.
MNUFC will pay an approximately $2.5 million transfer fee to acquire the 20-year-old attacker on a permanent transfer. Jeong has signed a three-year contract with the Loons, including a club option for 2026. Jeong will occupy an MLS Under-22 Initiative slot and will require an international roster spot.
Jeong went from K-League club Suwon Bluewings to Wolverhampton Wanderers in the English Premier League last January. He had signed a 4½-year contract with Wolves but couldn’t obtain his work visa and was set on loan to Grasshopper Club Zurich.
Grasshopper sporting director Bernt Haas lamented how the club wasn’t able to integrate Jeong. He didn’t score a goal in the Swiss Super League across 330 minutes in two seasons.
Jeong will have a fresh restart in Minnesota. He trained on the side at the National Sports Center in Blaine on Tuesday, and manager Adrian Heath was able to garner a first impression.
“He’s a powerful kid, you can see that,” Heath told reporters. “He’s got huge legs and is very athletic. He’s very quick. These are things we know about him. Typical Korean player in terms of you can see he’s fit. He looks after himself. The kid always has a smile on his face. That is nice, even with this (late winter) weather.”
Jeong is waiting for an appointment to obtain his work visa. Until then, he won’t be eligible to play for the Loons, with the next game Saturday against Vancouver Whitecaps at Allianz Field. The goal is for Jeong to go to Canada to flip his visitor's visa in the “near future,” a club spokesman said.
New Loons center back Doniel Henry played with Jeong at Suwon Bluewings in 2020-21.
“When I heard he was linked (to Minnesota), I thought that would be amazing,” Henry told the Pioneer Press. “He’s a good young player. He’s fast, very electric. One thing people might not know about Koreans is they are very hard working. Really technical, but very hard working people. They just put their head down and work.”
Henry has played in his native Canada, England and Denmark before Korea. “It was nothing but love and respect (in Korea),” said Henry, now 29. “He was one of the younger players, so in their culture, there is always a great amount of respect to the older players.”
The Loons believe Jeong is best suited to be a winger, but the six goals he scored for Suwon in 2021 each came as a center forward, according to wyscout. Jeong reportedly has a stronger right foot. Henry shared that Jeong played striker and both wings with Suwon. “Anything up top to be fair,” Henry said.
As a defender, Henry got an up-close view of Jeong’s skills, in particular, his “lethal” speed.
“He was going to burn me if I got too close,” Henry said. “Knowing that he has the quality to get in close and beat you on the dribble or come in and go long and beat you in behind. I just know, in this day and age, speed kills. If you know how to utilize it and know your qualities, you are always at an advantage.”
Henry said he felt welcomed by players and staff at Suwon and will return the hospitality in Minnesota — even if Henry has only been here since January. Henry and Jeong reconnected after Jeong arrived in Minnesota from Switzerland on Friday.
“I let him know I’ve tried a few Korean spots here,” Henry said in the interview. “The food was so amazing when I lived there, but we will definitely do Korean barbecue (in Minnesota). I’m definitely going to help him because when I was in Korea, they really made the effort to make sure I was comfortable when I was there, adjusting.”
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