Tottenham Hotspur’s Son Heung-Min has been on excellent form this season, scoring six goals in all competitions, including the first goal in yesterday’s League Cup North London Derby win over Arsenal.
So, naturally, that means Spurs are set to lose him to international duty for a few weeks. The club announced today that Sonny has been called up to the South Korean national team for the AFC Asian Cup, which runs from January 5 - February 1, 2019. As an apparent compromise with Tottenham, Son won’t join the Korean team until after the home match at Wembley Stadium against Manchester United on January 13, but is set to miss a significant number of games.
If you recall, Sonny has been the subject of a bit of push and pull between the Korean football federation and Tottenham in recent months. Sonny had a huge summer, first captaining Korea in the World Cup and then leading the Korea U23s to the Asian Games gold medal, a result that earned him a military service exemption. Spurs had reached an agreement that saw him miss AFC Cup qualifiers with Korea in the last international break, but even joining late he’ll miss the League Cup semifinal second leg at Stamford Bridge and a couple of Premier League matches.
The Asian Cup is a pretty big deal — it’s pretty much the EUROS of Asia, held every four years, and Spurs aren’t the only club affected by this tournament. Huddersfield Town will be without one of their best players, Aaron Mooy, who was called up by Australia, and that might be a more significant loss for the Terriers than Spurs losing Son for a few weeks. Newcastle will be without Korean international Ki Sung-yueng and Japan’s Yoshinori Muto. Brighton will be without Iran’s Alireza Jahanbakhsh.
Hopefully Spurs are a bit more healthy by the time Sonny departs, and apart from the League and FA Cup matches the schedule isn’t that bad. Spurs should be able to handle matches at Fulham, and home to Watford and Newcastle without him, and he comes back before the Champions League Round of 16 tie against Dortmund and matches at Chelsea and home to Arsenal.