“Korean Guy” Hwang Hee-chan, who was playing his best this season, has signed a long-term contract with his team Wolverhampton. The player and the club are satisfied, but the reactions of domestic fans are subtly mixed. It is because of the regret that the decision was too hasty at a time when rumors of a transfer to a high-ranking club were also emerging.
Wolverhampton announced on the club’s official website on the 22nd (Korea time), “We promised the future by signing a new long-term contract until 2028, which includes a one-year extension option with Hwang Hee-chan, the club’s highest scorer.” Wolverhampton also produced and posted an image of Hwang Hee-chan’s face and “Hwang Hee-chan 2028” in Korean as a background phrase for Korean fans on its website.
Hwang Hee-chan and Wolverhampton’s original contract was until 2026. However, the renewal also includes a one-year extension after 2028, allowing them to play in Wolverhampton’s uniform until 2029. In addition, the deal has raised their ransom significantly.
Although he did not disclose the exact terms of the contract, local media reported that Hwang Hee-chan’s weekly salary has nearly tripled from 30,000 pounds (49.5 million won). Currently, the highest-paid player in Wolverhampton is Pablo Sarabia, who is paid 4.68 million pounds (about 7.7 billion won) per week and 90,000 pounds (about 148.5 million won) per week, and Hwang Hee-chan’s treatment is estimated to be similar to this. He seems to have been treated as the main player representing Wolverhampton in name and reality.
Starting with his professional career in Salzburg, Austria, Hwang Hee-chan moved to Wolverhampton on loan in August 2021 after going through refurbishment-German Hamburg (rent) and Leipzig. After entering the EPL, Hwang Hee-chan scored five goals in his first season, and was recognized for his potential, before being fully transferred to Wolverhampton in January the following year.
In the 2022-2023 season, he struggled with injuries and had only four goals and three assists (three goals and one assist in the league). Since joining the team, his scoring ability has been pointed out as a weakness compared to his speed and breakthrough ability, and there was a crisis that he was embroiled in rumors of his release due to his unstable performance and residual injuries. However, Hwang Hee-chan gained attention by leading the Korean national soccer team to the round of 16 with the winning goal against Portugal at the 2022 Qatar World Cup, and he recovered his confidence from that point on.
Hwang Hee-chan, who has adjusted to the EPL through the 2023-24 season, is racing fast as he shoots career high. Hwang has already scored eight goals and two assists in 17 games, achieving double-digit attack points even before the season passes the halfway mark. He ranks seventh in EPL scoring and is by far the most goals scored in Wolverhampton.
Ahead of the opening of this season, Wolverhampton was in a very bad situation. Coach Hollen Lopetegui suddenly resigned just before the opening of the season, and Gary O’Neill hurriedly took over the helm, while ace winger Pedro Netu was groaning due to constant injury. It is no exaggeration to say that Hwang Hee-chan’s scoring ability saved his team from crisis at a time when the team was in desperate need of falling into the relegation zone. Currently, Wolverhampton is ranked 13th with five wins, four draws and eight losses (19 points), and is out of the relegation zone.
Hwang Hee-chan was selected as the best player by Wolverhampton fans in recognition of his contribution. In addition, Arsenal, one of England’s most prestigious clubs, was seeking to recruit Hwang Hee-chan.
Why did Hwang Hee-chan hurriedly announce his renewal of his contract with Wolverhampton at this time? From Hwang Hee-chan’s point of view, Wolverhampton is a grateful club for providing an opportunity for him to take a leap forward as a big leaguer, even though he was struggling with failure to compete for the starting lineup in Germany. In the EPL, Wolverhampton, a small and medium-sized club, has honored Hwang Hee-chan with a considerable large contract. If the entire contract period is observed, Hwang Hee-chan will devote his entire career to Wolverhampton until the age of 32-33.
However, the concern is that Wolverhampton is far from winning the championship and is not a stable club even to remain in the first division. Wolverhampton had its heyday in the 1950s alone, winning the first division three times, but it collapsed after the mid-1960s and once suffered the humiliation of falling to the fourth division.
It continued to be promoted and relegated after the 2000s, but after coming back to the Premier League from the 2018-19 season, it succeeded in remaining in the first division for the last six seasons. Among them, only the first two seasons of promotion ranked seventh in a row, and all three subsequent seasons were 13-10-13th, with only mid- to low-ranking performances that avoided relegation. The last time Wolverhampton won the first division stage was 43 years ago when it won the league cup in 1980.
Wolverhampton was unable to keep his key players ahead of this season due to financial problems, which was also the decisive reason for Lopetegui’s resignation just before the opening. Since joining Wolverhampton, Hwang Hee-chan has already had to face a different head coach every year, from Bruno Raz-Lopetegui to current O’Neill.
Ki, who is a close senior to Hwang Hee-chan, had career highs with Swansea City in the mid-2010s when he was playing for the EPL, drawing attention from prestigious pro teams including Juventus and Chelsea. However, Ki was forced to stay at the club due to his team’s dissuasion and various circumstances.
Since then, Ki Sung-yueng has suffered from injuries and competition for the starting lineup, and Swansea was relegated to the second division after moving around the relegation zone. In an interview, Ki Sung-yueng recalled the situation at the time and said, “I thought that if I played for one or two more seasons, I would have a good opportunity again, but the situation has not worked out well since then,” regretting missing the transfer period to the big club. 헤라카지노
Of course, it is not a bad choice to take the path of being recognized as a legend of a team rather than the championship trophy like Son Heung-min. There is not necessarily a guarantee that he will move to a big club. What kind of butterfly effect will Hwang Hee-chan’s long-term contract with Wolverhampton at the height of his career bring about in his future soccer life.