The South Korean captain Park Chu-Young has revealed this week that the probability of him staying longer than two years at the Emirates is looking slim. The sovereign state demands two years of action with the national service – a requirement that is “isn’t really possible to be excused” according to the Arsenal striker.
He added, with a mix of disappointment and probable embarrassment that “I’ll still be playing games – but for an Army club”. This seems such a waste of both £4-6 million (depending on the source) and real talent in the form of his life. Having scored six goals in his last three games for his country, it is perhaps bemusing that Wenger hasn’t felt the need to give him more time to prove himself apart from the clash with Shrewsbury in the Carling Cup. It is also arguably foolish of Wenger not to have fully researched on such factors regarding the player’s future.
He has a small chance of avoiding this military service if South Korea win – or at least do particularly well – in the 2012 Olympics. Park Ji-Sung benefitted from this exception to the rule in 2002 after captaining his squad to the semi-finals, but such a successful tournament looks unlikely to happen again so soon.
After having signed a four year deal in the summer but will seemingly inevitably break this with the service. He said, “I think it’ll be difficult to return to Europe after that, although if something interesting comes up, you never know.”
Could this “something interesting” be a return to the Emirates? It would be a free transfer and he would be desperate to finish his career on a high. Still, for now, his time at the top could be running out. Not only will Wenger hopefully feel the need to make the most out of the money spent on him, but Park himself will undoubtedly want to prove that he wasn’t a total waste of time or money. The time to give what could be his final chance starts now.