After the lofty standards he set for himself in his Golden Boot-winning Premier League campaign of 2021-22, it would not be too harsh to say that Son Heung-min has had a slow start to the new season. With six games down in the Premier League, and an additional one in the Champions League, the usually-prolific attacker is yet to open his account this term. Before the appraisal becomes overly critical, it must be said that Son has plenty of credit in his account — not just from last season’s 23-goal haul in the league but throughout his entire seven previous years with Tottenham.
Just three months out from the FIFA World Cup, South Korea coach Paulo Bento will be watching on with slight concern if not major alarm. Given the fact that the Taegeuk Warriors have been handed tough tests in Group H against Portugal, Uruguay and Ghana, it is no secret that they will need their talismanic captain to be firing on all cylinders if they are to stand any chance of reaching the Round of 16.
It can only be a good thing to have a world-class talent of Son’s ilk at their disposal, but the flipside to that is a potentially unhealthy overreliance on an individual player.
So do South Korea have enough options in reserve as a Plan B?
Firstly, it should be remembered that despite his prolific goalscoring ways, Son is far from a traditional out-and-out striker that serves as the fulcrum in attack. For South Korea, that role usually falls to Hwang Ui-jo — who recently joined Olympiakos on loan after suffering relegation to Ligue 2 with Bordeaux last season.