Song Min-Kyu has had a great start to his potentially breakout season at Pohang Steelers. While he’s still only gotten a goal in the early days, he’s shown great ability and build up to help Steelers out in attack. Not only that but he’s getting into good goalscoring positions a lot.
Like most Korean (and Japanese) footballers, Song Min-Kyu started his football career at a high school. He is a graduate of Chunju High School and played there as a winger. He then joined reputable South Korean side Pohang Steelers in 2018. For the most part, he participated in the reserve league but got a few first team appearances.
It wasn’t until 2019 where he started to garner more minutes under his belt. He got more than 1500 minutes last year and showed talent albeit still raw. Got 2 goals and 2 assists. Now this year in 2020, he’s finding himself to be rotated a lot between the bench and the first team, but he’s always getting a couple minutes on the pitch at least.
It should be mentioned that he was not a part of the U20 South Korea side that made the World Cup final in 2019.
Generally his technique is very good. Arguably even his strongest asset. His crossing is kept to a low as he doesn’t put many per game, but he has an OK success rate with it all things considered. For every 1.95 crosses he puts in per 90, he succeeds in about 22% of those. Not an outstanding number, but a very small sample size.
He really excels in first touch, dribbling and passing. He’s very unpredictable on the dribble particularly. He is a good ball juggler and does well at tricking his opposing defender into what he’ll do next, as he’s done on a few occasions. He’s also got a pretty high success rate to prove it even further. In 7.14 dribbles, he succeeds in almost half (45%). As for his passing, it’s not so much the technique he excels at but more the unpredictability and vision to put in a pass. He executes them quite well and knows how to put in a good through ball.
Song is definitely not a versatile player, at least not having been seen yet in his short career thus far. He’s been experimented in a central forward role but for the most part, is a left winger and that is that. Here is his overall heat map for the 2020 season.
And here is his 2019 heat map.
As you can see, he sometimes is experimented elsewhere but he excels in left wing mostly and hasn’t found a huge amount of success elsewhere. Though jury is still out for him.
Song Min-Kyu’s vision is good as mentioned, but his through ball execution is excellent. He knows how to put in a pass, even if it’s in a short thinking space. He’s also composed, like most young South Korean footballers are taught to be.
He also performs a lot of one-two’s, such as the one below.
As Song Min-Kyu receives the ball, his teammate makes a run forward and Min-Kyu demonstrates the understanding and communication between him and his team by putting a through ball forward, performing the one-two.
Here is another example.
He receives a pass yet again, and instead of going forward and cutting inside, he holds up the ball for a few seconds while his teammate runs into space.
As Song Min-Kyu draws his marker in, his teammate (Palocevic) finds his way into the box wide open, where Song can perform a clever through ball onto the side, which the Serbian is able to reach via the open space just exploited.
Most importantly here is his off the ball movement, which is arguably his best attribute as a player. He always finds open space out on the left and is in a good position to receive the ball.
As for defence, he needs to be apt as all wingers and he’s definitely apt enough but it’s always tougher to judge outside of Europe where less emphasis is put on that aspect of a wingers game. He has high work rate in general, both offensively and defensively, but it’s not his strongest point.
He has 4.38 defensive duels per game and wins about 52% of them. He’s also managing 2.38 interceptions a game. To compare, Ulsan’s In-Seong Kim has about 4.9 defensive duels per game (66%) and 2.78 interceptions a game. Jeonbuk’s Murilo Henrique has 5.09 defensive duels (52%) and 2.67 interceptions. While not quite at the same level as those two, Song is a younger player and not as regular as a starter, so these stats are more than passable.
His xG must also be mentioned, as per 90 it’s at a staggering 0.36. Meanwhile his xA this season is at 0.16. Not quite as monumental but still a decent number nevertheless.
He’s a determined individual with a big winning mentality, but obviously he doesn’t have a lot of experience yet. His discipline is also quite high all things considered, where as jury is still out on his leadership. However, he definitely has the desire and hunger to want to help his team win.
This may be his weakest asset. As with most South Korean players, the focus on Song Min-Kyu is mostly his technical and tactical ability. In terms of physique, he’s not paling in comparison but it could definitely be better. Though his weight at 72 kg is the right amount, he’s not the fastest player in the world nor the most athletic. He has great balance though as well as decent stamina, so he definitely has his high spots.
Song Min-Kyu can definitely make the transition to Europe at some point. He may struggle with physique at first but at his age, it’s definitely trainable. He’s very good technically and tactically that he can compete in Europe well.
A good start would be a move to a league such as the Austrian Bundesliga or the Croatian League, as he could learn a lot without being quickly exposed as he would in a more physical league. With more learning and tolerance, he can become an important player for South Korea’s future.