By Kim Tong-hyung
Liverpool became the latest football powerhouse to show interest in Hamburg's Son Heung-min, the 21-year-old Korean who is quickly becoming one of the most coveted strikers in Europe.
In an interview with Football List, Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre confirmed that the club will be involved in a bidding war for Son. Its potential competitors are rival Premier League outfits Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United and German giants Bayern Munich and Dortmund. Ayre emphasized that Liverpool considers Son as a difference maker, not a benchwarmer who sells jerseys and T-shirts.
Facing intensifying competition, Hamburg maybe resigned to the loss of Son, whose contract expires next summer. His price tag is presumed to have elevated to the neighborhood of 15 million euros and his fate could be determined in the coming months.
''I think he will stay. At the moment there are no changes,'' Hamburg's sports director Frank Arnesen recently told the German media.
Son, widely considered the best football prospect to come out of Korea since Premiership veteran Park Ji-sung, is enjoying a breakout season in the highly-competitive German Bundesliga.
With 12 goals this season, Son is tied for the team lead with Artjoms Rudnevs and his dual ability as a creator and finisher allows him to influence a match in a way his Latvian partner does not.
Park, who followed his impressive seven-year-run at Manchester United with a lost season with Queens Park Rangers, has never generated nearly as much excitement as Son is doing now.
Even in his prime, Park was never the focal part of an offense, but a role player who earned his minutes with his unselfishness and industriousness. Son, on the other hand, is displaying a potential to develop into a true match-winner and his unique combination of skills, pace, awareness and finishing ability has scouts drooling across Europe.
Son's talent was on full display last week when he led Hamburg to a 4-1 rout of Hoffenheim in Sinsheim, Germany, scoring one goal and assisting in another.
After perfectly timing a cross to head in the opener in the 15 minute, Son dealt further damage 20 minutes later when he attacked the box, dribbled around Hoffenheim goalkeeper Koen Casteels and unselfishly dished the ball to Dennis Aogo, who tapped it into an unguarded net.
While Son just seems to be entering his prime, Park seems to be on his way out. While Park's contract with Queens Park Rangers (QPR) doesn't end until June next year, it seems unlikely he will play through it. He is clearly not a player QPR manager Harry Redknapp considers as essential and is too expensive a player for the team to keep as a warm body.
With interest in Europe waning, Park's last opportunity for a big paycheck may come from clubs in cash-abundant Middle Eastern countries or China. A number of high-profile football stars have headed to the Chinese Super League in recent years, including former Chelsea superstar striker Didier Drogba, who played with Shanghai Shenhua before moving to Turkish giants Galatasaray.