East Asian flavour spicing up the action in Europe as transfer window opens

PETALING JAYA: The transfer window opened in Europe and Asia was in a flurry as top European clubs either signed or put Asian players on trial. 

Chinese international striker Qu Bo has arrived at Dutch club Feyenoord for week-long trials with last season's UEFA Cup champions; South Korean side Anyang Cheetahs confirmed that star midfielder Lee Young-pyo will be loaned out to PSV Eindhoven for six months, with a possible full transfer later and Japanese World Cup midfielder Kazuyuki Toda arrived in England for a two-week trial at English Premier League side Sunderland. 

Young-pyo will be the second Korean to sign for the Dutch club giants following Park Ji-sung's lucrative transfer barely three weeks ago. The duo are likely to get plenty of playing time at PSV as they will be rejoining former South Korean manager Guus Hiddink at the club.  

The Asian football market is indeed booming. Qu Bo, one of China’s most impressive performers at the 2002 World Cup, attracted plenty of interest last year when he attended a trial at English Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur. 

The 21-year-old was offered a contract but the British immigration denied him a work permit although four of his compatriots – Li Tie and Li Weifang at Everton, Sun Jihai at Manchester City and Fan Zhiyi at Cardiff City – are already in Britain.  

Young-pyo's deal may not be too lucrative but the Koreans believe he can clinch a full transfer and a better contract later. 

The 25-year-old Toda was one of the most recognisable figures of last year's World Cup Finals with his purple-dyed rooster-style haircut. 

With Sunderland currently involved in a relegation battle, manager Howard Wilkinson could make Toda the second Japanese international after Fulham’s Junichi Inamoto to play in the EPL.  

Toda’s S-Pulse teammate Alex had a trial at another EPL side Charlton Athletic earlier this season but returned to the J-League side after his work permit application was rejected. 

Another Shimizu S-Pulse player Daisuke Ichikawa is currently in Strasbourg on a two-week trial with the French First Division side.  

“I'll do my best to persuade the Strasbourg coaching staff to keep me. I really hope to get the chance to play here,” the 22-year-old said. 

Earlier last week, J-League Player of the Year Naohiro Takahara joined Bundesliga side Hamburg SV on a 2½-year contract reportedly worth US$500,000 after impressing coach Kurt Jara.  

Europe is going to have a decidedly East Asian flavour when the window closes on the transfer market.  

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