Jesse Lingard (FC Seoul), who has become one of the biggest foreign players in the K League, will likely miss the opening match of the 2024 season.

Head coach Kim Ki-dong opened up about whether or not Lingard, the most talked-about signing of the season, will play in the opening match at the Hana Bank K League 20224 Opening Media Day at China The Plaza Hotel in Seoul on Saturday.

Seoul officially announced the signing of Lingard on Aug. 8. “As a leading club in the K League, FC Seoul has consistently taken the lead in signing big names with both skill and popularity, making impactful attempts to boost the success of the K League as well as the development of Korean soccer. This latest signing is another example of the alignment of FC Seoul and Lingard’s forward-thinking vision and goals,” said FC Seoul President and CEO, Kyle Lingard.

The move comes as FC Seoul celebrates its 20th anniversary of returning to Seoul with a vision to further cement its status as the leading club in the K League and lay the foundation for the club and the K League to reemerge as a world-class organization. It is also a sign of the club’s commitment to rewarding the fans with hope and anticipation for their unwavering support, which has enabled FC Seoul to set a new record for the highest average attendance in a single season in professional sports in 2023 (22,633) and become the most popular club in Korea.”

Lingard is arguably the best foreign player in the 41-year history of the K League. Lingard is a former Manchester United player who has spent 13 years in English professional soccer, the center of world soccer, since his professional debut.

He is also a member of the England national team and has valuable experience from the 2018 World Cup in Russia, where he led his country to the quarterfinals. This is a big deal for Korean soccer fans, as the player with the highest name value in the 41-year history of the K League will be making his K League debut.

“This is my first professional move abroad and I am determined to regain my skills and senses and make a second leap forward as a footballer through a new challenge at FC Seoul, a leading club with ties to Korea’s capital city of Seoul and the largest fan base,” said Lingard. “I am also determined to be at the center of the K League stage as soon as possible through my respect for Korean football, dedication to the team, mature attitude and good performances.”

Lingard joined the squad shortly after joining the team and has been training in Japan. He has quickly adapted to the team and the Korean culture, but he is still unlikely to play in the upcoming opening match against Gwangju.

In a pre-match interview, Kim said, “He says he doesn’t have a big problem, but we think he’s only at about 6 to 70 percent. He keeps saying he’s improving, but we have to wait and see,” Kim said.

“I didn’t do much (pre-season training). We didn’t do any group training, but as soon as he got here, he got a few touches on the ball and he’s trying to build it up as he plays. He played three games, from 20 minutes to 30 minutes to 50 minutes. I’m thinking about 토토 whether I should put him on as a substitute or start him and take him off after 10 minutes,” he said of the plan.

When asked if he was using him as if he were an U-22 player, Kim laughed and said, “I’m not feeling well,” adding, “I can wait for (the player). If I use him right now when he’s not fit, it might have side effects, so I’ll try to use him when he’s fitter.”

Kim continued, “First impressions are important when dealing with people. There will be a lot of expectations for Lingard, but if he’s nervous and doesn’t feel well and makes a lot of mistakes and doesn’t perform, a lot of fans might think, ‘Well, he’s not that good,’” Kim said, indicating that he will choose carefully for Lingard’s debut.

When asked if there are any matches he is aiming to play in, Kim said, “There is no such thing,” adding, “I have to check my physical condition and see. I don’t have a specific game in mind, so I’m not focusing on any particular match.”

Meanwhile, Seoul will play their opening match away from home against Gwangju FC at the Gwangju Football Stadium on May 2 at 2 p.m.

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