Celtic did some good transfer business recently by signing Korean youngster Oh Hyeon-Gyu from Suwon Bluewings on a permanent deal. With a reported valuation in the region of £2.5 million, the 21-year-old’s transfer to the Bhoys is one of the noteworthy deals to happen in the Scottish Premiership in the 2023 winter transfer window. Regarded as a young, talented striker with great attributes, he has featured regularly in Suwon Bluewings’ first team. Last season, he made 38 league appearances and scored 14 goals as his team avoided relegation from K League 1. He finished the 2022 season as the league’s fifth-top scorer despite his side finishing third bottom.
Since signing him on a five-year deal, Oh Hyeon-Gyu has featured three times for Celtic in the Scottish Premiership already. The Korean talent will provide the Scottish Champions with some much-needed depth in the attacking positions after the recent departure of Greece international Georgios Giakoumakis to the MLS. Below, we look at some stats to understand why Celtic have added the young Korean striker to their ranks.
Oh Hyeon-Gyu is primarily a centre-forward by trade, but he can also play as a winger or attacking midfielder. The above viz shows the percentile rank of the player’s stats compared to other centre-forwards from the K League 1 2022 season. It can be observed that the 21-year-old fares admirably in the attacking and defending departments. Notably, the player has a high rank for dribbles, goal contributions, aerial duels contested, defensive duels won, and positioning. Meanwhile, the Korean professional performs decently in the passing department too.
Oh Hyeon-Gyu in the box
The above viz depicts the shot map of Hyeon-Gyu from the 2022 season of the K League 1. He found the back of the net 14 times with an xG value of 9.34 (excluding penalties). The forward scored at a rate of 0.5 goals per match while averaging an xG rate of 0.35. He attempted 69 shots, with most of them coming from inside the penalty area in proper centre-forward fashion. All of his goals have also come from inside the box, including a few from the vicinity of the six-yard box. The 21-year-old attacker took an average of 2.4 shots per game with an accuracy of 40.6%.
In addition to being a natural goal scorer, the Korean forward also contributes to the team by creating goal-scoring opportunities for others. He provided two assists for his Suwon Bluewings teammates last year, for a total xA tally of 1.4. From the shot assist viz above, it can be observed that most of these assist attempts have come through short, accurate passes and crosses. Hyeon-Gyu attempts nearly 18 passes per match with 73.8% accuracy. Of these, 1.5 passes are to the final third and 1.35 passes are to the penalty area per match. He created two big chances while averaging 0.6 shot assists per match.
Possession and defensive traits
Another essential aspect of Oh’s gameplay is his ability to progress the ball through actions like dribbles and progressive runs. From the viz above, we can see that the Korean striker attempts a lot of dribbles in the final third, and executes these actions with great success inside the penalty box. He also attempts some of these actions on each flank while moving forward. Currently, Oh averages 3.55 dribbles per match with a 55.8% success rate and also makes 1.23 progressive runs per match.
The young Korean contributes to the team defensively when devoid of possession. The viz above shows the player’s average defensive territory from last season. Oh commits most of the interceptions and tactical fouls in the central regions of the final and middle thirds. He makes 1.91 interceptions, 1.08 fouls, and 3.25 recoveries per match. Furthermore, the player contests 2.95 defensive duels and wins 62% of such contests. He also attempts as many as 10.24 aerial duels and wins 31% of them, highlighting his strength in the air.
Role at Celtic
The addition of Oh Hyeon-Gyu will add more depth and quality to Celtic’s attacking line. Following the departure of Giorgos Giakoumakis to Atlanta United, the Korean can prove a like-for-like replacement. He can serve as a backup option for Kyogo Furuhashi while also providing him with competition for a starting role gradually. The above viz is a comparison between Hyeon-Gyu Oh and 28-year-old Giorgos Giakoumakis. Both players outperform each other in certain areas. Notably, the 21-year-old Korean has better stats in areas like goal contribution, dribbles, progressive passes, defensive duels won, and aerial duels contested.
Overall, Oh Hyeon-Gyu is a promising young player who has amassed a decent level of experience playing regularly for the first team. The move to Celtic is certainly the next step in his career, where he will get to develop further into his potential and hopefully achieve success. He is a young centre forward with a natural affinity for scoring goals, but he also contributes to the team in a variety of other areas. The 21-year-old will have an important role to play in Celtic’s attacking department for the rest of the season, with the club trying to win back-to-back Scottish Premiership titles.
Visuals via TFA data viz engine