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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.

 

Pipo to Join Zico at PAT?

 

Thai national team star Siroch Chatthong, widely known as Pipo, has reportedly agreed to join Port on loan for the 2018 season.

Last season Pipo was arguably the hottest property in Thai football, but Ubon stuck to their guns and held on to their striker despite the advances of many of the top teams in the country. To everyone’s surprise, Pipo failed to find his scoring touch in T1, remarkably failing to find the net even once in the first half of the season. Ubon finally decided to cash in, selling the powerful striker to Muangthong who were desperate for more depth with their striking options. Along with Pipo they also brought in prolific Brazilian Leandro Assumpcao from Sisaket and former Ratchaburi striker Heberty Fernandes. They joined Thai talisman Teerasil Dangda and his national team understudy Adisak Kraisorn at the SCG, putting Pipo at fifth in the striking pecking order. Hardly ideal for a developing footballer.

There is a certain logic to Pipo being willing to join the manager who plucked him from relative T2 obscurity and thrust him in to the national limelight. When he was Thai national team manager Zico took a bold gamble on Pipo, and he shone with his robust physical performances in World Cup Qualifiers – most notably against Australia – then the Suzuki Cup, where he scored twice against Indonesia in the final to give Thailand victory.

 

Photo by ESPN FC

 

Then there are Port’s striking options. Josimar has scored 10 goals to date in 2017 – a pretty reasonably return – but besides him Port have little to offer up front. Kaludjerovic has scored three times, Tana twice and Wuttichai zero times. Yes, Siroch has also drawn a blank this season, but when he doesn’t score he still offers something important to the team. Pipo runs at – and often through – defenders, he wins physical duels, he keeps at least one if not two defenders occupied dealing with him, and he gives everything for the team. What do Tana or Wuttichai offer except the motivation to tear your own hair out? Pipo is far from the finished article, but both as an alternative to Josimar and an option on either wing he would add to Port’s firepower immensely.

So, is this at all likely to happen? Well, it’s not outside the realms of possibility. It would have been at the start of last season, but with Pipo’s dip in form and his move to a quality-packed Muangthong squad Port’s chances have improved markedly. That’s not to say that it’s very likely, though. There is a long time between now and 2018, during which Muangthong’s willingness to let Pipo go, and his willingness to join Port have plenty of scope to shift. We’ve seen more than our fair share of ‘done deals’ fall through at Port, that’s for sure.

Regardless, I’m holding out hope. Pipo has been a favourite of mine ever since I saw him play for Ubon for the first time. His all-white Ubon kit was caked in mud within about 15 minutes of kick-off, such was his commitment and his willingness to put his body on the line for his team. He may never be a  twenty goal a season striker, but he plays hard, he creates, he gives everything for the team and he entertains.

Come on Pipo, you know you don’t want to waste your time on that SCG bench!

 

Siroch: The One That Got Away

Did Port miss the opportunity to sign the Thai Heskey?

Siroch Chatthong, Ubon UMT’s powerful 24 year old forward, has exploded on to the Thai football scene in 2016. His promising displays this term did enough to persuade national team coach Zico to take a chance on him, and he has repayed the faith shown in him with some barnstorming performances.

Siroch vs. Rochela

Siroch, nicknamed Pipo, celebrated his 24th birthday on Thursday by scoring his first international goal in Thailand’s 4-0 thrashing of Myanmar, but it’s not because of his goals that Thai fans have taken to him. Pipo plays a distinctly un-Thai style of football, using his physique to bully and streamroll opposition defenders. Playing in Ubon’s all-white kit last season, Port fans may remember him being covered head-to-toe in Khlong Toey’s hallowed mud as he fought manfully for his team, although he couldn’t prevent them slipping to a 3-1 loss at PAT Stadium. Port fans congregated in the local Futsal arena during the stadium ban were full of praise for the Ubon forward, but if things had turned out differently, they could have been cheering on one of their own.

Before moving to Ubon UMT for the 2016 season, Pipo played for BCC in the regional league. Their home ground? Our very own PAT Stadium. Pipo scored 10 goals in 29 games for BCC before being spotted by Ubon’s scouts, but the Port coaching team must be disappointed that they missed the chance to sign Thailand’s most promising young player while he was right under their noses.

Tana Chanabhut

What’s more, it seems likely that Pipo has now usurped Port striker Tana Chanabhut’s place in the national team squad. Port’s only representative in the national team usually makes the 23 man squad alongside Muang Thong duo Teerasil Dangda and Adisak Kraisorn. Once all four are fit they will be fighting for three places, and it seems almost certain that Pipo will be ahead of Tana in the pecking order.

While Thai fans will be gleefully watching Indonesian players bounce off Pipo as he marauds through their defense in the Suzuki Cup Final later this month, Port fans may justifiably feel a little peeved that they missed the chance to sign Thailand’s latest sensation.