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Why Would Borussia Dortmund Sign Sunderland Striker Ji Dong-Won?

Paulo Di Canio rightfully lost faith in the Korean youngster Ji Dong-Won when he ducked out of the way of a cross in an August 31 loss at Crystal Palace. But this came just weeks after the former Sunderland manager had reportedly turned down an offer from Borussia Dortmund reportedly in the neighborhood of £5million for the young striker.

Di Canio’s decision to hold onto the South Korean international appeared a terrible mistake after this incident. A change of manager did not help the player at Sunderland as he has remained on the fringes of the squad since Gus Poyet took over.

Now, Ji like Di Canio before him, has left Sunderland, on loan to Augsburg where he was also sent last year by Martin O’Neill. Within 24 hours of the loan move, the player had signed a pre-contract with Dortmund that will commence on July 1 when his current deal with Sunderland expires.

“Dong-Won Ji is a professional who can play in several positions across the attack,” said Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc.

“We’re delighted to be getting this talented player on a free transfer in time for the new season.”

For Borussia Dortmund stung by the recent decision of Robert Lewandowski to sign a pre-contract with Bayern Munich, the deal makes sense. Despite his failure in the Premier League where he scored just twice over two and a half seasons (one of which was clearly offside in stoppage time against Manchester City in 2012), he is highly regarded in Germany. Last season when also loaned in January to Augsburg, he was instrumental in helping the side escape the drop zone and stay in the Bundesliga for an additional season.

The player has certainly been a failure in English football, but without paying a transfer fee for a young player, Dortmund has little to lose. Jürgen Klopp has built a family-like atmosphere at the club and it is very possible Ji could thrive in such a stable atmosphere that is dissimilar to Sunderland.

As a young foreign player who had four coaches in two and a half seasons at Sunderland, it is not surprising Ji never really settled. If he is going to be successful in European soccer, Dortmund is the type of place where it is likely to happen.

For more coverage of the German league, visit the Bundesliga page for news, analysis and opinion.

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  1. Jim

    January 20, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    Ji is an example of why some players do well in one country but fail in another. Only a select few players can make it in any league.

  2. Matt

    January 20, 2014 at 9:44 am

    When DWJ was at Augsburg he was used as a midfielder and pretty much single handedly helped them survive relegation, I assume that’s where he will play at Dortmund or this is just simply a depth signing on the cheap as Dortmund lack depth. They will go for a “bigger name” striker in the summer. All the Brit media laughing that Ji is the replacement of Lewandowski are simply mistaken.

    End of the day, this was a bad business move by Sunderland, they could have gotten millions for Ji and now end up getting less than 500K according to German media.

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