Tom’s Transfer Talk: Left Wing Wish List

 

This is tricky. T1 isn’t exactly awash with great Thai attacking players, and most of the stand-outs are already at Muangthong or Buriram. With Port reportedly doubling their 2017 budget though, there certainly should be some more cash allocated to hoovering up the best of the rest when it comes to Thai talent. Not forking out for Tana’s wages will help, too! Whatever we’ve been paying him, it’s far too much. My criteria is simply quality Thai attacking players who I think it is possible for Port to sign. Not likely, necessarily, but possible.

What I’m looking at specifically is a replacement for one Genki Nagasato. The Japanese winger finished 2017 with 5 goals and 3 assists, having started all but one league game, and playing a total of 2,364 minutes of T1 action. His contribution was just about enough to hold on to his place in the team, but in a side with more convincing attacking options, Genki may well have seen significantly less action. Changes to the foreign player quota mean that Port are very likely to replace him with a Thai player. Here’s just a few names that I would be more than happy to see as Port’s marquee Thai signing in 2018.

 

Nattawut Sombatyotha, Ratchaburi

 

 

This 21 year old attacking midfielder is a fantastic prospect, and really started to make his mark for Ratchaburi towards the end of 2017. If you watched his performance against Port on the final day of the season, you’ll have seen the number 9 make several dangerous bursts forward from midfield, as well as deliver some pinpoint corners – one of which was an assist – before popping up with a consolation goal in injury time. Nattawut looks at his best in the middle of the park, but has played about half of his 22 games on the wing.

What do the numbers say? Well, if we set the benchmark at a Genki-sized contribution of 5 goals and 3 assists, Nattawut makes the grade, with 5 and 5. Not only did he out-perform Genki, he did it having played 1,323 minutes to Genki’s 2,364.

Are we likely to get him? No, probably not, but it’s not outside the realms of possibility. He’s a young player at a club who has brought in some excellent young Thai talents, and made a point of giving them a fair crack of the whip, so it’s probably in his interests to stay right where he is. We could try offering him a big old pay rise, though! It could be a wise investment.

 

Surachet Sareepim, Bangkok Glass

 

 

This 31 year old striker certainly wouldn’t be an investment in the future, but would guarantee a tidy return in the short term. Surachet scored 10 T1 goals for Bangkok Glass in 2017, the most of any Thai player besides Teerasil, and has consistently scored just under a goal every other game in the top flight for the last few seasons. He can play anywhere across the front 3, and most unusually for a Thai player he has the height and strength to win balls in the air when he plays through the middle.

What do the numbers say? Add 2 assists to the aforementioned 10 goals, all of which were achieved in just 1,656 minutes across 23 games, and you have a forward who offers a significant upgrade on what Port had in 2017.

Are we likely to get him? Well, he’s already at Bangkok Glass where I assume he is quite happy. Moving to Port would probably mean a regular place in the starting XI, though, which could be a draw for the 31 year old. I assume Glass won’t want to let him go, so this one is also probably a non- starter unless he’s out of contract.

 

Jakkapan Pornsai, Bangkok United

 

 

Am I mental to think that Port could sign one of the most talented forwards in Thai football, who is already at the third best team in the country? Hopefully not, because he’s had an absolute nightmare since moving to Bangkok United in the middle of the 2017 season. Jakkapan, who tore Port to shreds with Glass in their 3-0 waltz at PAT Stadium, arrived at Thammasat Stadium to much fanfare, but remarkably has started just once and come off the bench 3 times since arriving. He’s a proper winger who has the skill and guile to beat a defender or two and deliver quality balls in to the box.

What do the numbers say? In 2017, they say that Jakkapan was grossly under-used. He played just 863 minutes, almost all of which were for Bangkok Glass, scoring 2 goals and providing 3 assists. He bettered Genki’s stats in both 2016 and 2015, though, scoring a remarkable 13 goals from the wing for Suphanburi in 2015.

Are we likely to get him? I don’t see why not. He can’t be happy about sitting on the bench for half a season, and if both parties agree it’s best to part ways, he will most likely be after a club like Port who can pay his presumably substantial wages and offer him first team football.

 

Siroch Chatthong, Muangthong United

 

 

Full disclosure: I have an irrational appreciation of this man’s talents. Yes, shock horror, the man with Elias Dolah’s name on the back of his Port shirt appreciates a rampaging lump with an uncommon talent for the physical side of football. Pipo, as he is widely known, burst on to the scene in 2016, making a key contribution in Ubon’s successful promotion campaign. He even earned a shock call-up to the national team, and immediately cemented his place in the squad with some gutsy displays and crucial goals. Since finally getting his chance in T1, though, Pipo has not had things his own way.

What do the numbers say? I’m not going to lie, they’re ugly. 6 assists isn’t too bad, but you just can’t be a T1 forward without contributing some goals. Pipo played as a central striker for most of the first half of the season for Ubon, failing to find the net even once, and after being signed by Muangthong he has primarily been used as an impact sub on the wing, with similar results. Would I still take him at Port? You’re damn right I would! Goal-drought aside, Pipo creates mayhem in the final third. He’s strong, quick, direct and keeps defenders busy, creating space for his teammates. His final ball does need an awful lot of work, but I am confident that once Pipo breaks his duck, his swagger will return and the goals will start to come with more regularity.

Are we likely to get him? With their striking options, Muangthong seem very unlikely to keep him, and Port would be a sensible destination for a player at his level. It may well be on a loan deal, but that would probably suit both parties quite well. This is also a rumour that did the rounds a few months ago, so a deal may already have been discussed by the two clubs.

 

Thanasit Sriphala, Suphanburi

 

 

This is another slightly sentimental pick based on how good I think he should be, rather than how good the stats say he is. Thanasit was the star of the Thai national youth teams up to Under 23 level, and made a splash in the top flight for Bangkok Glass in 2015, including a superb match-winning performance against Port. The 22 year old moved to Suphanburi in a deal which saw Jakkapan Pornsai move the other way, but whereas Jakkapan made an immediate impact at Glass, Thanasit struggled for game-time at Suphanburi. He’s a quick, tricky left-winger who likes to run at defenders and get in to the box, but can be a bit of a luxury player at times.

What do the numbers say? Again, they’re not too pretty. Thanasit has played just 659 minutes in 2017, scoring a solitary goal. That’s certainly not a return commensurate with his quality, and can probably be attributed with the fact that he didn’t start 2 consecutive games until October. In past seasons, Thanasit has performed much better, but he is certainly a risk if he’s being brought in to be a regular starter. It’s a risk I would be willing to take, though, as at his best he is unplayable, and he just looks so damn much like a young Ronaldinho!

Are we likely to get him? He’s a young player at a decent team who clearly thought a lot of him when they signed him, but considering how little Thanasit has played in 2017, I can see his head being turned by the promise of more regular football and more money. Suphanburi also seem to be very much on a downward trajectory, which the youngster may not be too happy about.

 


 

So, there is my wish list for 2018. Any one of those players, along with a top foreign striker, could help to transform Port’s fortunes next season. Assuming that Port hang on to key players like Rochela, Siwakorn and Pakorn, a couple of improvements could be all it takes to push Port well in to the top half next year. Now, recruitment people. Try your very, very hardest not to trip over yourselves like Tana in the penalty area.

 

Tom Earls

Tom Earls

Having moved to Thailand aged 10, Tom has been playing or watching football in Thailand for more than 18 years. A keen follower of the Thai National Team and an avid fan of Port FC, he is a regular contributor to The Sandpit.

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