South Korean striker Cho Jae-jin is close to signing a deal with Premier League side Fulham, his agent said Tuesday.
The 27-year-old former Shimizu S-Pulse forward has been seeking employment in English football in the past months, but previous talks with Newcastle and Portsmouth fell through.
Kim Min-jae, the head of IFA Sports which holds the contractual rights for Cho, told The Korea Times that Fulham recently offered a deal for his client and an agreement could be reached as early as the end of the week.
“We consider it a reasonable offer, and we have many reasons to believe that the talks will produce a good result this time,” said Kim, who declined to reveal the size or length of the contract offered bythe west Londoners.
“Fulham manager Roy Hodgson has high regards for Cho’s ability, and Cho made it clear he wants to play there,” Kim said. “We think it would be a good fit.”
A deal with Fulham could reunite Cho with his former South Korea teammate Seol Ki-hyeon and offer a decent opportunity to contribute right away, as the offensively challenged Cottagers are currently forced to use a striker-by-committee approach.
Hodgson, the midseason replacement for former boss Lawrie Sanchez, has been looking to add ammunition to help the team’s fight in avoiding relegation, with Watford forward Marlon King and U.S. international Eddie Johnson involved in negotiations. Cho spent last week training with Fulham and seemed to have Hodgson convinced of his abilities.
“He (Cho) is a South Korean international who has done really well in the J-League,” Hodgson told AFP. “He is a very interesting player and this week we’ll be sitting down with him and talking about the future.”
Cho is the latest South Korean footballer to knock on the doors of English football. Seongnam Chunma midfielder Kim Doo-hyun is also in talks with Championship side West Bromwich Albion.
Should he land in Fulham, Cho becomes the fifth South Korean international featured in the Premiership, joining Seol, Manchester United midfielder Park Ji-sung, Tottenham defender Lee Young-pyo and Middlesbrough forward Lee Dong-gook.
Aside of the Spurs’ Lee, none of the Koreans are getting regular minutes, but Cho is a good bet to leave an impression right away, considered clearly a superior talent to either Seol or Middlesbrough’s Lee.
The athletic, 1.85-meter striker is regarded for his ability to win balls in air and keep possession in traffic, making him a constant frontline predator and a terror for defenders in set pieces.
Cho’s ability to stretch the defense could be an asset for Fulham, a team with an abundance of support strikers and attacking midfielders but short on aerial threats.