In one of the stranger transfer dealings of the year, Ji Dong-Won, the 22 year old South Korean striker, is leaving Sunderland to join FC Augsburg. The Bavarian club announced the permanent signing of the striker on a 6 month contract. But wait a second. Borussia Dortmund have now confirmed that they have signed an agreement with Ji starting on 1st July 2014.
This move, after Sunderland rejected a £5m bid from Borrusia Dortmund last summer, with then-manager Paolo Di Canio believing if the Champions league finalists were interested in him, then Ji must be worth keeping. The Mirror (in the UK) and Bild (in Germany) reported in December that Dortmund had renewed their interest in Ji and had agreed to terms with the striker. The current deal seems to suit both Bundesliga clubs, as Ji gets regular football for the next 6 months at FCA, while Dortmund get a player who is already quite settled in the Bundesliga.
Ji, speaking about the move, explained: “I wanted to change clubs in the winter to get more match practice and improve my chances with South Korea for the World Cup in Brazil. I had a great time at Augsburg last season so I’m happy to go there again.”
Interestingly, the South Korean was on loan at Augsburg during the second half of last season. During this 6 month spell, the South Korean impressed the club and supporters. He scored 5 goals in 17 appearances and chipped in 23 attempted assists (12 leading to on-target shots). However, the agreed fee between Sunderland and FCA was too much for FCA to afford at the time and the deal sending to Ji permanently was called off.
Not anymore: “We have now taken the opportunity to take Ji Dong-Won under contract for the rest of the season,” Augsburg sporting director Stefan Reuter told reporters, who continued: “He had a successful time at the Augsburg last season, he knows the team, the coaching staff and the environment.”
Despite the one highlight of Ji’s time at Sunderland, a last minute winner against Man City, he failed to impress under all four managers he played under at the club during the last year. JI was first bought by Steve Bruce in 2011 from South Korea’s Chunnam Dragons, yet from the beginning he wasn’t give many chances to make an impact. Then under Martin O’Neill he was loaned out to Augsburg for the second half of the 2012-13 season. Finally, on his return as Sunderland’s manager, Paolo Di Canio substituted Ji on to a chorus of boos in a League Cup match, while Sunderland’s latest manager – Gus Poyet – only gave Ji two chances to play.
For Ji, the temporary move back to FCA provides a fabulous opportunity to showcase his attacking skills for BVB’s traning staff, as the South Korean prepares to make his jump to the big time football of Dortmund. Moreoever, FCA couldn’t be happier as a key attacking piece on their 2012-13 side has returned – just in time to contribute to FCA’s ascent into the Bundesliga’s top 8.
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