Dino (29) did not end up becoming Valentinos (33). With the departure of one of their frontline strikers, Gangwon FC will have to rely on the synergy of Lee Jung-hyeop (32), Yang Hyun-joon (21), and Kim Dae-won (26).
Gangwon FC announced the news of Dino’s contract termination on the club’s official social media on January 1, saying, “Dino ends his stay with Gangwon FC.”
Dino came up through the youth ranks of Swedish side Malmö FF before joining the youth ranks of Premier League side Fulham in 2012. However, he failed to break into the first team and spent time at FC Groningen, Östersund FK, and Rosenborg BK before joining Gangwon in 2022.
He scored 15 goals in 28 appearances for the Norwegian side in the 2021 season, and made a name for himself with Gangwon fans by scoring his debut goal against Seongnam in the 2022 K League 1 first round.
He then scored a goal against Daegu in the fourth round and was expected to be Gangwon’s mainstay, but he suffered a major injury in the fifth round against Suwon FC, rupturing his Achilles tendon.
The news of Dino’s serious injury reminded Gangwon fans of Valentinos, a foreign defender who played for Gangwon from 2017 to 2019. After joining Gangwon in 2017, Valentinos went down with a cruciate ligament injury that season. His ACL injury was serious enough that he was deregistered by the Korean Football Association and spent the rest of the season rehabbing in Europe.
In the 2018 season, Valentinos returned to Gangwon after rehabilitation. After his return, he continued to play well.
Dino spent the 2022 season rehabbing, and Gangwon fans were hoping that he would return in 2023 and be the team’s main gun, just like Valentinos.
However, Dino’s form hasn’t been great. He picked up his first offensive point of the season with an assist on Kim Dae-won’s equalizer against Cheongju in the FA Cup, but that was it, as he and Gangwon eventually parted ways.
In a sport that demands goals, a weak front line naturally leads to difficulties for the entire team. Yang Hyun-joon, who usually plays on the flanks, often found himself in the center of the front line with Park Sang-hyuk and Kim Dae-won, and struggled under intense scrutiny from opposing defenses.
In 2022, Yang quickly became the team’s ace, scoring eight goals and adding four assists in six games. Add to that Kim Dae-won’s 12 goals and 13 assists, and you have the most offensive points of any player in the league. Heading into the 2023 season, Yang Hyun-joon and Kim Dae-won were touted as the best offensive duo in the K League.
Before the season started, Choi Yong-soo said, “We had a difficult time with our ambitious signing Dino suffering a long-term injury at the beginning of the season, so we had to raise our motivation. We had to raise our motivation in the midst of that,” he said, adding, “How many games can we really play with the composition of players the coach wants?
Speaking about Yang Hyun-jun, Choi said, “He’s going into the season with a lot of pressure on him this year. Honestly, I’m not as excited as last year. There will be a lot of pressure on him,” predicting a difficult season.
His fears proved true. Yang still has great speed and excellent on-the-ball and off-the-ball movement, but he can’t do it all on his own. Gangwon has scored just seven league goals this season, the lowest among the 12 teams in the K League 1. They are also 11th in the standings.
The good news is that Lee Jung-hyeop is back. After going down with a torn ligament in training in March, Lee rehabbed and made his comeback against the Pohang Steelers on March 21 as a substitute.
Lee formed a good partnership with left wingers Kim Dae-won and Yang Hyun-joon last season. His ability to drop lower than the front line to receive the ball and then slip in passes to Kim Dae-won and Yang Hyun-joon on the left and right flanks helped to lubricate Gangwon’s attack. Indeed, Gangwon has begun to showcase its offensive prowess since Lee Jung-gyeop’s return from injury last season.안전놀이터
It’s too early to rest on our laurels. With only 15 games played, Gangwon can’t rely on Lee for the rest of the season. They have Park Sang-hyuk, who can fill a similar role, but he’s still not quite up to par. With no summer transfer window for striker reinforcements, Gangwon will have to rely on Lee Jung-hyeop, Yang Hyun-joon, and Kim Dae-won to pick up points quickly.