You would be forgiven if you didn’t know much about Kwon Hyeok-Kyu. He joined Celtic in the summer from his hometown club in the Korean second tier but, before Saturday, the last football he played was July.
Since then, the 22-year-old relocated to Scotland, with all the social, cultural, culinary and sporting challenges that involved. St Mirren have him on loan until the end of the season and on his debut on Saturday, he was awarded Man of the Match (by the BBC, not a sponsor, keen to boost a new arrival). That’s remarkable for a player out for so long.
Defensive mid is the role Callum McGregor plays, and Callum is the most available player on the planet, so swap-out options are rare. Tomoki Iwata awaits his chance there, while Matt O’Riley really impressed when asked to fill-in. It is no surprise we have yet to see Kwon.
He is an absolute unit: 6’ 3”, mahogany solid and fast. His impressive debut for St Mirren surprised no one at Lennoxtown, including his manager, who has hopes for the player.
He is a find; prepare for a reassessment ahead, along the lines of Bernardo, with Holm and Nawrocki to come. A loan move to St Mirren is a great next step. He will hopefully play until May as he becomes adjusted to life in Scotland. Celtic will watch all his games and he will return in the summer ready to press for a place in the team.
What happens to Kwon and the others is critical to how Celtic develop as a club. Make a success of signing players with talent and growth potential, or pick up expensive mid-career journeymen (like Newco). Best of luck to Kwon on Saturday.