Park poised for new United deal
Park Ji-Sung is set to sign a lucrative new Manchester United contract during the early weeks of the season. The Korea Republic international's present deal expires next summer, but the 28-year-old has already proved his worth in four successful years at Old Trafford following a £2m move from PSV.
And although United chief executive David Gill has refused to put a timescale on negotiations, it is anticipated a new deal will be signed shortly. "We are looking to extend Park's contract because Alex is very happy with him," said Gill.
"When we signed Ji-Sung Park it was for footballing reasons. But, without a doubt, it has had an impact on our commercial activity in South Korea. We have one million credit and debit cards here, which is phenomenal and the enthusiasm of the fans is second to none."
Park's popularity will be emphasised against FC Seoul this evening, when he comes on as a substitute for the last half an hour or so. As he has only just returned from a summer break extended due to his 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifying commitments, which continued until the middle of June, the winger is behind the rest of his team-mates in fitness terms.
But his boundless energy is sure to make up for that on a tour that heads for Hangzhou in China PR on Sunday, before returning to Europe for Bayern Munich's Audi Cup on Wednesday and Thursday. And when he does emerge in Seoul, Asia's player of the year can expect a reaction equal to anything David Beckham had been used to before his out-of-character confrontation with Los Angeles Galaxy fans earlier this week.
"When a local lad like Ji-Sung has left his country to play for Manchester United - and not just play but excel at the very highest level - then it's obvious he will receive adulation in his home country," said Sir Alex Ferguson. "In addition, he has been a star of his national team for some years now. Korea is a football nation, so the reaction when he comes back is understandable."
Park's presence should help ease the blow of not having Cristiano Ronaldo to cheer, as the Korean fans had in their capital on the Red Devils' first visit two years ago, when he scored the first of what turned out to be four unanswered goals. Few are critical of United's decision to offload the 24-year-old for a world record £80million.
However, his departure is not going to be merely glossed over. Ferguson knows he will have to adjust his team and he is aware the Koreans will miss him.
"The most significant difference this time is that there's no Cristiano Ronaldo and the fans will miss him," said Ferguson. But we are still at a very high standard and hopefully this season we will continue that way. There is a great desire for us to maintain the high standard of success Manchester United deserves."