Premier League outfit Queens Park Rangers have completed the signing of experienced South Korean midfielder Park Ji-Sung on a two-year deal. Park leaves Old Trafford after seven successful years at United during which he won four Premier League titles and one Champions League trophy.
QPR will become the fourth club of a brilliant career which has seen Park take in national honours with Kyoto Purple Sanga of Japan, Dutch giants PSV Eindhoven as well as at Manchester United – a trophy haul that makes him the most decorated Asian footballer of all time.
The 31-year-old’s experience at the highest level can only benefit QPR, and the Super Hoops will hope to utilize Park’s hard-working playing style to full effect. Similarly, Park’s versatility in midfield will be able to fill a number of positions in Mark Hughes’ squad: he can play anywhere across the middle of the park and was used as both a defensive midfielder and a winger by Manchester United.
Although Park was clearly more likely to win silverware at Old Trafford than QPR’s Loftus Road – QPR boss Hughes has admitted “Ji has been attracted not to where QPR are, but where QPR are going” – he had fallen out of favour somewhat at Old Trafford during the latter years of his spell with the Red Devils, playing less than half of United’s Premier League fixtures in his last three seasons at the club.
He was often recalled for vital league, cup and European games, but Park is expected to play a much larger role at QPR, where first-team football chances are more assured. Enticed by the London club’s vision for the future, Park said: “The project was simply too good to resist and I am excited about getting started in pre-season and going on tour to Asia in the coming days. I am joining a club that is very much on an upward curve – a club that has a very bright future.”
Similarly delighted were Hughes and QPR owner Tony Fernandes: ex-United forward Hughes gushed “He is hugely respected there because of what he has achieved, his application to his work and the impact he has on games…this is a huge signing for this football club”, while a statement on the club’s official website hailed Park as a “global phenomenon”.
Fernandes, a Malaysian entrepreneur, surely appreciates Park’s value in making QPR a club attractive to the Asian market – the signing “coincides” with the team’s pre-season tour of the region. The AirAsia director said: “I am overjoyed and can’t wait to see him in a QPR shirt. It shows our determination and our ambition to build this club. Ji is a global star with a Champions League winner’s medal to his name, and he is as excited about this move as we all are.”
Park’s retirement from international football in January 2011, shortly after winning his 100th cap for South Korea, means that QPR will not face losing their new signing during the Premier League season. 26 of Park’s international appearances came after 2009, representing his country mid-season at the 2011 Asian Cup and 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.