Adam Taggart's Suwon Bluewings may be slipping deeper into the South Korean relegation mire but Middle Eastern interest in the Australian striker is growing.
With the Saudi Pro League season delayed and ending in early October, clubs are already planning for the start of the 2020-21 campaign which is likely to start in November.
Suwon have been resigned to losing the 2019 K League 1 top goalscorer since earlier this year after being told by owners Samsung that any funds needed to rebuild an ailing team for next season will have to come through transfers, and that means cashing in on their prized asset who netted 20 league goals last season.
“There is a lot of interest from Middle Eastern teams in the K-League right now,” a Suwon official told The World Game.
“The league is talking of a pay cut as revenues have fallen and that means players will be more willing to go and teams will be under more pressure to sell.
"We have received a number of enquiries about Taggart from clubs in the Middle East. Even in a normal situation, it would be hard to keep him and this is not a normal situation.”
Suwon’s situation is made even worse as the club, with the Socceroos striker in and out of the starting line-up, has collected just one point from the last four games and is drifting closer to bottom of the 12-team league.
Even with the team’s poor form, the trapdoor was looking some distance away but Suwon’s latest loss came at basement dwellers Incheon United.
That 1-0 win was the second victory in succession for Incheon and moves the port city club to within three points of the Bluewings with ten games remaining.
Suwon’s woes are likely to encourage Saudi clubs. Even in that league, traditionally one of the richest in Asia, with as many as seven foreign players allowed on the roster of each club, teams are looking to reduce spending as much as possible.
That means less focus on big-names from Europe and South America and more on Asia and Africa.
Increasingly, value is seen in both the K-League and the A-League - two of the best in Asia - which offer talented, hard-working and professional players at a price seen as relatively low.
Western Sydney Wanderers could do nothing to prevent captain Mitchell Duke from joining Al-Taawoun last week and champions Al Nasr are on the trail of South Korean defender Kim Jin-soo.
The international may be one of the highest-paid players in the K-League but according to Sports Chosun newspaper, his club Jeonbuk Motors are resigned to losing the former Bundesliga man.
Al Nasr are ready to triple the 28 year-old’s salary if he decides to leave the South Korean champions to move to Riyadh and join up with Australian goalkeeper Brad Jones.
Kim could be lining up against Taggart once again next season, but in west Asia rather than the east.