A frantic start to the Thai League transfer window

While the January transfer window still remains nothing more than a glint in the eye of many clubs in Europe, clubs in Asia are already experiencing the madness of the transfer season.

It has only been a few short weeks since the end of the Thai League season, but the merry-go-round of players and managers has already been sent into hyperdrive.

Champions Buriram United have been one of the least busy teams in the transfer window relative to their counterparts. However, they have already lost their top scorer from last season, Jaja Coelho, who has returned to Belgian side Lokeren after the expiration of his loan deal.

While the club have so far remained silent about a potential replacement, but the side are said to be chasing Vietnamese attacker Nguyen Van Quyet to fill their ASEAN player quota.

While no concrete moves have been made yet at Muangthong United, who came second last season, the capital club are could be expecting an exodus of top players. Goalkeeper Kawin Thamsatchanan, who has been linked to Japanese clubs Consadole Sapporo and Shimizu S-Pulse, has since caught the eye of French club Angers SCO.

Additionally, rumors about a possible move for vice-captain Theerathon Bunmathan to Cerezo Osaka surfaced around September, but have died down in recent weeks.

Regardless, it seems like Muangthong could be set to lose even more players this season, after already seeing the back of club heroes Cleiton Silva, Xisco Jimenez and Chanathip Songkrasin over the course of the last campaign.

The third Thai side in to participate in next season’s Champions League, Chiang Rai United, have also been busy in the transfer window. Attacker Rafael Coelho has returned to Indian Super League side FC Goa at the end of his loan deal, and the club have signed Bangkok United’s Gilberto Macena to replace him.

They also sealed an impressive deal for Ubon UMT captain Victor Cardozo to strengthen their defence and filled their Asian player quota with Korean midfielder Lee Yong-Rae.

Bangkok United have shown that their boardroom possesses the same combination of boldness and insanity that their players do, claiming that they will be willing to sell last season’s top scorer Dragan Boskovic for a mere 50 million Baht (£1.14m).

The Montenegrin attacker scored 38 goals last season, a record tally in the Thai League. In a season where Bangkok are expected to push on and challenge for the title, one can only hope that the club has a contingency plan, given that there are many clubs who would happily snap up their prized asset at that price.

The capital club have also made Surachet Ngamtip from Chainat Hornbill their first aquisition of the transfer window.

United’s crosstown rivals Bangkok Glass have been making headlines for the makeover of their stadium, but they have also dipped into the transfer window during the close season.

After denying fans of the excitement of a new manager hunt by taking the pragmatic and admittedly sensible move of appointing assistant coach Josep Ferre as their new manager, they have added French-Guinean attacker Frederic Mendy from Korean side Jeju United to their ranks.

Port FC have also been busy in the transfer window, signing Nurul Sriyankem from Chonburi after reportedly beating off competition from Champions League clubs Buriram and Chiang Rai. The 25-year old was a standout performer for Chonburi last season and will add further dynamism to the Khlong Toei outfit.

They have also wrapped up a deal for Cameroonian striker Marcel Essombe from Ratchaburi, but have loaned him out immediately to Police Tero and signed Ubon UMT’s Bajram Nebihi in his place.

Ratchaburi have moved to sign Korean striker Kang Soo-il as his replacement, and will also be in the hunt for a new manager after allowing coach Pacheta to leave at the end of his contract.

The club owned by Asia’s largest sugar company are yet to kick off after moving into their new stadium, and face an uphill task to challenge the country’s top clubs after losing their a player from their last campaign.

Along with Essombe, Tero have also signed 21-year old Burmese attacker Aung Thu, who shone in the last AFF Championships and is considered to be one of his country’s brightest talents.

Pattaya United had a fantastic late-season run at the end of the last campaign to lift them from fighting relegation to a comfortable top-half finish. The club have looked to push on by signing Peeradon Chamratsamee from Muangthong United, following his successful loan spell at the club.

Many fans have been taken aback at the 30 million Baht (£0.68m) transfer fee, making him the third most expensive Thai player ever despite only having a single cap for the national team at age 25.

Pattaya have also reportedly wrapped up a deal for Filipino-Japanese midfielder Hikaru Minegishi to fill their ASEAN player quota.

The Thai League close season has become renowned for full-scale overhauls and managerial merry-go-rounds aplenty, and so far this year’s has lived up to, if not gone even beyond, most fans’ expectations.

With more and more clubs willing to spend money in order to compete with the lucrative Champions League places, and relegation places being expanded to five in order to downsize for 2019, this upcoming Thai League season end up being one of the most enthralling and competitive campaigns yet.

The Author

Gian Chansrichawla

Aspiring football journalist living in Bangkok, Thailand. Currently working for Thai League club Muangthong United.

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