|Nguyễn Quang Hải turned in more stunning performances at the Asian Cup. — VNS Photo Hoàng Linh|
From the Asian U23 Championships a year ago through the Asian Games, the AFF Cup and now the Asian Cup, Vietnamese footballers have shone on the international stage.
Now, the team’s stars need to play club football abroad to reach their full potential.
Fox Sports Asia recently named five young players likely to move abroad after the Asian Cup, including midfielder Nguyễn Quang Hải.
"While he plays for Hà Nội FC in Việt Nam currently, his fleet-footed dribbling abilities and eye for goal would definitely have attracted the attention of other teams in Asia, perhaps even in the J-League," the website wrote of the diminutive playmaker.
It is not the first time Fox’s reporters have urged Hải to leave Hà Nội.
Last September, Scott McIntyre published an article on foxsportsasia.com entitled ‘Quang Hải needs to move abroad now’.
McIntyre heaped praise on the player but slammed his current employers for holding him back, writing:
“It is remarkable then that his V.League club, Ha Noi FC, is refusing to listen to transfer requests from three different continents, insisting that he’s better served by continuing his development at the club.”
At the time, it was reported that the 21-year-old and Ha Noi FC officials believed it was better for him to sharpen his skills locally for the next two or three years, though Hải has yet to comment publicly on the issue.
While Hải has stayed quiet, his teammate Nguyễn Công Phượng has spoken up.
Speaking to media after Việt Nam were knocked out of the UAE tournament by Japan, the striker said:
"I want to have the chance to play abroad, Japan or Europe, however, it is not easy because of rules and contracts with my clubs. Some European clubs have contacted me but my (Hoàng Anh Gia Lai) club managers refused. I hope these issues will change soon and I can make my dream come true. It is also a way I could help the national team which is aiming for a berth in the World Cup."
The player from Nghệ An Province, who notched two goals and one assist in the Asian Cup, was tipped by Fox Sports Asia as likely to be the subject of big transfer offers after the tournament, possibly from Thailand or Japan for a second spell.
Steve Darby, former coach of the Việt Nam national women’s team, told e-newspaper doisongvietnam.vn that Hải, Phượng and other players like forward Phan Văn Đức and defender Đỗ Duy Mạnh are at their peak and should go abroad if possible.
Darby added that local clubs should work with other sides from more developed football countries to create opportunities for their players to move on to gain experience.
He said foreign clubs had contacted Hải but Hà Nội did not let him go, possibly holding out for a bigger transfer fee, which is within their rights, but something that could stunt the player’s growth.
The best plan could be a loan contract, Darby suggested.
The first Vietnamese footballer to play in Europe, retired striker Lê Công Vinh, also thinks Hải needs to make the jump now.
"Hải can play abroad. He can even be successful as he has proved his talents. He is small but owns good technique and incisive mind which will help him to integrate with different clubs," said Việt Nam’s best striker Lê Công Vinh.
"Playing abroad has never been easy but to push oneself up players should not stay locally. Such good players in our current generation will help change our football image in other countries’ eyes," said Vinh, who played in both Japan and Portugal.
Earlier this month, during a visit to Việt Nam, Manchester United legend Dwight Yorke also said Vietnamese players should leave the country to improve.
Speaking with fans in HCM City he said there were many players with potential in Asia and Việt Nam in particular but they needed better conditions to develop.
He also said tournaments in Asia were not as competitive as those in Europe, so to push themselves footballers should go abroad and play at higher levels.
One of the national team’s stars has already taken the plunge, with goalkeeper Đặng Văn Lâm sealing a dream move after the Asian Cup to Muangthong United of Thailand.
Hải and Phượng have the ability to follow in his footsteps, the question is will they be allowed to? — VNS
|Striker Nguyễn Công Phượng hopes to have the chance to play abroad again. — VNS Photo Hoàng Linh|