Celtic manager to decide if Kwon extends his stay at St Mirren

The news that Kwon Hyeok-kyu has suffered a hamstring injury and will now miss the rest of the season is unfortunate for St Mirren and of course the player himself…

By all accounts, the big South Korean midfielder has been very good throughout his temporary stint in Paisley with Stephen Robinson’s men and has put in some great performances for the Buddies.

Mouzinho de Lima #10 of Timor-Leste competes for the ball against Kwon Hyeokkyu #6 of South Korea during the 2022 AFC U-23 Asian Cup Qualifier at Jalan Besar Stadium on October 28, 2021 in Singapore. (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images)

Having arrived on the scene from his homeland last summer in the K-League 2 with Busan IPark, the tall and athletic midfielder looked decent against English side, Wolverhampton Wanderers, in a friendly which was held in Dublin at the Aviva Stadium. However, a short while later he played in James Forrest’s testimonial match against Athletic Club Bilbao and was frankly all over the place. It might have been just nerves but that was that as far as his season in the Hoops was concerned.

29th July 2023 Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Celtic versus Wolves.  Hyeokkyu Kwon of Celtic FC looking for a way through the defence. Photo ActionPlus Peter Fitzpatrick

It also prompted many to question whether or not it was a step too far, too soon for the player, having played second tier football in South Korea before joining the Scottish Premiership Champions. Speculation grew even further when he was not even making matchday squads under Brendan Rodgers and were convinced maybe an intermediary step in his career in the form of a loan deal somewhere, may be best for his personal development.

Kyogo Furuhashi, Liam Scales, Yuki Kobayashi and Hyeok-kyu Kwon arrive to attend a training session at Lennoxtown on December 12, 2023, on the eve of their UEFA Champions League match against Feyenoord.  (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images)

That arrived in the form of St Mirren, who wanted that type of profile in the centre of midfield, as Keanu Baccus had been called up to play in the AFC Asian Cup squad with Australia. So Stephen Robinson reached out to countryman Brendan Rodgers, who was happy to recommend Kwon Hyeok-kyu to his comrade for a short-term solution to his problems.

That seems to have worked wonders for both the Saints and Kwon, as the player looks to have pushed on in a less highly-pressurised environment away from Celtic Park. It’s the same kind of pathway that Kristoffer Ajer and Ryan Christie found all the way to the Celtic first team a few years ago now. Both men weren’t quite at the required level to play for the Hoops regularly but with a stint away on loan deals, they came back and forced their way into the manager’s plans.

St. Mirren v theRangers –  Hyeok-Kyu Kwon during the cinch Premiership match at The SMISA Stadium, Paisley. Saturday January 27, 2024. Photo Andrew Milligan

With both now plying their trade down in the English Premier League and thriving, these temporoary moves away from Parkhead can prove invaluable for the player and the club. With Kwon’s obvious physical attributes making him an interesting prospect, it begs the question: is he ready to come back to Paradise this summer and join the squad for our assault next season at home and abroad?

Stephen Robinson has previously indicated his desire to retain the services of Kwon for another season and that will be something that Celtic will consider this summer. It will be intriguing to see what’s next for Kwon and whether he’s going to have a future at Celtic either next season or the year beyond.

Paul Gillespie

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I'm a Garngad Bhoy through and through. My first ever Celtic game was a friendly against Italian side Parma at Celtic Park, in 2002. Currently a student of English Literature and Education at the University of Strathclyde for my sins. Favourite game would be a toss up between beating Manchester United with that Naka freekick, or the game against the Oldco when Hesselink scored in the dying seconds. I'm still convinced Cal Mac is wasted playing that far back.

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