Park Chu-Young’s transfer to Arsenal on 30 August 2011 was one of the strangest transfers of all time.
Park was born on 10 July 1985, and in his home country he has been famous since 2004 when he won the Golden Ball for the most valuable player in the AFC Youth Championship in 2004. Indeed it is odd to think that while many Arsenal supporters hardly know he exists, there has been hysteria in South Korea concerning his development, and he was Asian Young Footballer of the Year in 2010.
But the slippage in his ability was first noticed in 2006 when he only managed 8 goals in 30 games. After that he recovered somewhat but a foot injury hampered his development.
However he was impressive enough to be signed by Monaco in 2008 which is where he was when Arsenal signed him on 30 August 2011. The story told on Wikipedia is that, “He had completed the first part of his medical at Lille but disappeared from his hotel room before the second part was completed.”
The story is that Arsenal were interested, and according to some reports he was rushed away in a car to sign for us, being given shirt number 9. However in March 2012 it was revealed that Park had obtained a 10-year residence permit in Monaco as part of the deal, and thus was able to use that (as the permit was for EU residency) in moving to Arsenal. The residency permit also allowed him to avoid military service, although he is now also granted that right through being a medal winner at the Olympics (see below). It is quite likely that he was waiting for the residency to come through, before he could move to England, and the move to Lille was a fall back.
25 October 2011 he scored in the league cup against Bolton and on 1 November, Chu-young started in the Champions League match against Marseille. His league start came on 22 January 2012 against Man U as a sub on 82 minutes. On 6 March 2012, he appeared as a sub in the 3-0 win over Milan in the Champions League.
Such a small list of appearances tells its own story, and the fact that on 8 August 2012 he was given squad number 30, says a lot.
He never got to use it however as on 31 August 2012, Park moved to Celta de Vigo and on 22 September 2012, he scored his first goal – the first Korean to score in the Spanish League.
Park also has an Olympic medal – having won bronze in the 3rd place play-off for the under 23 team in the 2012 Olympics. For Arsenal he has made four starts and come on twice as a sub.
On June 10 2013 Park Chu-young, was fined for not showing up for the last match of the league season against Espanyol. Park was injured at the time, but still should have been at the stadium. Celta Vigo managed to avoid relegation by winning the game 1-0. After joining the club in September, Park scored three goals and added one assist in 22 matches, having started eight games.
On 10 July Park Chu-young entered an Army boot camp in Nonsan for a month of military training. Park will return to Arsenal after completing boot camp, said Kim Dong-ho of Park’s management agency DH Sports.
Park was exempted from military service for a second time after the Korean squad won the bronze medal in the London Summer Olympics last year but is still required to undergo four weeks of basic training and play or coach football in Korea for 34 months.