Opinion

China interest in Taggart rising but Socceroos striker should wait it out

Suwon Bluewings striker Adam Taggart Source: Suwon Bluewings - Facebook

Adam Taggart demonstrated plenty of composure and decision-making acumen on the pitch in 2019 as he finished his first season in South Korea as the top scorer in the K-League and he may need to show the same coolness off it in 2020.

If you score 20 goals in one of Asia’s top leagues then there is going to be interest. Already there have been reports of Japanese tabs being kept on the 26 year-old. Now Chinese teams are sniffing around.

Whatever happens, Suwon Bluewings, who signed the Socceroo early in 2019, have a fight on their hands to keep the owner of the K-League golden boot at the Big Bird Stadium for another season.

A Suwon official told The World Game that while there has yet to be a concrete offer from Japan,  there have been a number of enquiries from China with second tier Changchun Yatai already making a serious bid for the player. 

The Bluewings, desperate to return to the top of Korean football after a disappointing league campaign in 2019,  have already indicated that they don’t want to sell Taggart but would have to consider doing so if the price was right and high.

It would have to be very high for the club to sell a prize asset to China’s second tier. It may also not be in the player’s interest to swap Suwon for Changchun --and not least because while winters just south of Seoul are cold, they are nothing compared to China’s far northeast.

Korean teams are accustomed to losing top talent to China --Taggart would be the third successive golden boot winner to head west across the Yellow Sea -- but in this situation, staying at Suwon would surely be the better choice. 

Changchun have fallen from grace since their heyday when they won the 2007 Chinese Super League and were relegated in 2018. New Uzbek coach Samvel Babayan is an interesting appointment and is looking to replace aging stars and imports who look set to leave yet helping the team to promotion, if everything goes well, is not an ideal situation for one of Australia’s top players. Best to stay at Suwon and spearhead the club’s AFC Champions League campaign.

The K-League is clearly of a higher standard than China’s second tier and while Taggart has the right to do whatever he wants in his career, Socceroos boss Graham Arnold would surely prefer to see his star striker playing at the highest level possible and not China’s second tier. That is no place for one of Asia’s top strikers.

As a red-hot goal poacher, Taggart knows that timing is everything. Suwon are expecting more bids from China and not just from the second division. New rule changes in the country, announced just a few days ago, mean that in 2020 clubs can have five foreign players in the squad and can now field four at any one time. 

There are also limits now on how much players can be paid as clubs will be forced to reduce costs and become more sustainable. 

This is good news for Australian football. This means less big name stars from Europe and South America will be heading to China and it opens the door for more Asian players. The preferred nationalities in China are especially South Koreans with Uzbeks and Australians also relatively attractive as they offer good value for money and in the case of Koreans, the cultural difference is relatively small. 

An Australian who has proven himself in the K-League is going to be in demand and once the new rules are digested (like many things in Chinese football, these major changes were introduced without warning or time for preparation).

Even if  the expected bids don't materialise in this transfer window then another season in Korea and the Champions League is a good option. More success and the former Brisbane man really will be a hot property as we enter the second half of 2020.

Just like he did on the pitch in 2019, Taggart needs to just take his time. He has moved himself into the perfect position and now it is a case of waiting for the right opportunity. It will come sooner or later.