Arsenal eye a foothold in Asian market with Park Chu-young signing

The South Korea striker, a commercially significant figure in his home country, is close to completing a £3 million (Dh18.04m) transfer from AS Monaco.

The South Korean striker Park Chu-young has experience of European football by spending the past three seasons with AS Monaco.
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LONDON // Arsenal have been working on simultaneously strengthening their playing resources and their appeal to the valuable Asian football market by signing the captain of South Korea's national team Park Chu-young.

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The 26-year-old striker, a commercially significant figure in his home country, was close to completing a £3 million (Dh18.04m) transfer from AS Monaco.

Park, a technically able 6ft tall forward is comfortable playing either centrally or off either wing, succeeded his namesake Park Ji-sung as South Korea's captain when the Manchester United midfielder retired from international football in January.

He will be paid £50,000 a week by Arsenal, but comes with an unusual potential for generating revenue that will be amplified by moving from French football to the more popular English Premier League.

His transfer comes at the end of a summer in which Arsenal toured Asia for the first time, and during a period in which the club is placing great effort on utilising its global image in an attempt to grow turnover.

Previously opposed to leaving Europe for pre-season training, Arsene Wenger has spoken of the importance of capitalising on overseas markets.

"On the commercial side we may be behind clubs like Manchester United, and we are trying to reduce the gap," said Wenger yesterday. "We work very hard on it, and that is one of the reasons we have gone to Asia. We have a big name abroad, but to transform that into resources is a bit more complicated. That's what we try to do.

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"It's the only chance we have [to compete]. In England we cannot go any higher with our income, that is why we have to go international."

Wenger has a strong personal interest in Asia as a product of his successful 18-month spell managing the J League side Nagoya Grampus Eight. He has previously attempted to integrate an Asian player into Arsenal's squad by signing Junichi Inamoto on loan from Gamba Osaka ahead of the 2002 World Cup.

Though the Japan midfielder ultimately failed to establish himself at Highbury, Park comes with the advantage of already completing three successful years in European football. Last season he scored 12 goals in 33 league appearances for Monaco, attracting the attention of Tottenham who seriously discussed recruiting the player earlier this summer.

Park can expect to end up playing in the same line-up as Ryo Miyaichi, the 18-year-old winger Arsenal signed from Japanese high school football last year and subsequently loaned to Feyenoord.

Miyaichi was granted an exceptional talent work permit earlier this month after scoring three times in 12 outings for the Dutch club and has already been integrated into Arsenal's senior squad.