Bayer Leverkusen: Heung Min Son Doesn't Get Enough Respect from German Media

Allan JiangTransfers CorrespondentJune 19, 2013

SUWON, SOUTH KOREA - JULY 20:  Son Heung-Min of Hamburger reacts during the Peace Cup match between Hamburger SV and FC Groningen at Suwon World Cup Stadium on July 20, 2012 in Suwon, South Korea.  (Photo by Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images)
Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images

Bayer Leverkusen's South Korean phenom Heung Min Son is rated by most people in footballing circles, except kicker, Germany's preeminent sports magazine, as a tremendous talent. 

Kicker has consistently judged Son unfairly whilst not applying the same criteria to other Bundesliga players.

Kicker Rankings All Players Forwards Only
2012-13 177/210 21/27

According to kicker, Dani Schahin, Didier Ya Konan, Kevin Volland, Luuk de Jong, Sascha Mölders and Stefan Reisinger outperformed Son last season.

LEAGUE ONLY Kicker Forward Rankings Goals + Assists = Total Goals 
Kevin Volland 9/27 6 + 7 = 13
Didier Ya Konan 12/27 7 + 2 = 9
Stefan Reisinger 14/27 7 + 0 = 7
Luuk de Jong 18/27 6 + 2 = 8
Dani Schahin 19/27 8 + 0 = 8
Sascha Mölders 20/27 10 + 0 = 10
Heung Min Son 21/27 12 + 2 = 14

Out of the aforementioned forwards, only one of them scored four times in two league games against UEFA Champions League finalists Borussia Dortmund—Son. 

Eight players scored more Bundesliga goals than Son but kicker believe there are 20 forwards better than the South Korean—that makes no sense whatsoever. 

When it comes to quality, Ya Konan, Reisinger, Schahin and Mölders don't even belong in the same sentence as Son. 

That isn't the case when it comes to De Jong and Volland though it still doesn't justify kicker ranking both players above the South Korean international. 

De Jong came to Borussia Mönchengladbach with a massive reputation, having scored 32 goals for Twente, some of them in spectacular fashion, the season before last.

Like teammate Granit Xhaka, De Jong hit a brick wall and didn't recover, hence why the Dutchman registered a paltry six league goals.

Volland, a Fritz Walter Medal finalist, has been vastly overrated by kicker. The 20-year-old's shots per league goal is 8.5 which is less efficient than Son's 6.5. The German's 44 percent shooting accuracy is also significantly lower than the South Korean's 56.

On the back of 12 goals by Son and René Adler's wondrous keeping, Hamburg overachieved to seventh place, whereas Volland's Hoffenheim had to duke it out with Kaiserslautern in a relegation play-off to stay in the Bundesliga. 

Kicker haven't just ranked Volland a spot ahead of Son, but 70 places separate both players on the official list. 

Bild have also harshly accessed Son's performances last season, who is shockingly ranked below Mike Hanke, Max Grün, Felipe Santana and Marco Caligiuri.

  • Hanke: 91 percent of his games were sub-affected and he went through a 17-game run without scoring.
  • Grün: His 1.7 saves per goals conceded is woeful. For comparison's sake, René Adler's SPGC was 2.3 with some of the worst defenders in Europe. While, Manuel Neuer's SPGC was 3.9.
  • Santana: Wasn't even an undisputed starter and had a habit of switching off, i.e. 4-1 loss to Hamburg and 3-3 draw vs. Wolfsburg.
  • Caligiuri: Scored once in 22 games.

Why are kicker and Bild constantly giving Son bad player ratings?

They are evaluating Son by what Cha Bum-Kun, South Korea's all-time leading goalscorer and a pioneer for Asian players in Europe's top-flight, accomplished. 

In Cha's first season for Eintracht Frankfurtkicker gave him a higher player rating than Klaus Augenthaler, who went on to play 404 league games for Bayern Munich.

During the 1982-83 season, Cha had a superior kicker player rating than Pierre Littbarski, who top scored at the Euro U-21s and would later win a FIFA World Cup. 

Cha is a two-time UEFA Cup champion and was part of the triumphant DFB-Pokal winning Frankfurt side in 1981.

It's unreasonable to compare Son so early in his career to Cha just like Skip Bayless habitually lambasting LeBron James from the get-go for not being Michael Jordan-esque.

Instead of having a glass half full approach to examining Son, kicker and Bild look for negatives when the South Korean has succeeded in a tough scenario. 

Hamburg manager Thorsten Fink used Son as a one-man counterattack for portions of the season which created the impression that the South Korean was one-dimensional. 

That couldn't be further from truth because Son is ambidextrous, his positioning has improved exponentially and he has lethal dribbling ability. 

Just ask Austria Vienna goalkeeper Heinz Lindner, who watched Son take the ball from his own half, accelerate deep into Vienna territory and unleash a powerful shot for a golazo. 

A point of order for kicker and Bild: if Son is as bad as your player ratings suggest, why was he one of the most sought after transfer targets prior to signing with Leverkusen?

"Liverpool, Tottenham, Fulham, Southampton and Cardiff were all interested," revealed Son's agent Thies Bliemeister to Bild via Sky Sports. "Leverkusen is the best step for the next two or three years to develop further."

Do you know which other club wanted to desperately secure Son's signature? Dortmund.

"I wanted to stay in the Bundesliga and Leverkusen and Dortmund wanted me," said Son via Henry Jackson at "Both teams play in the Champions League but I thought Dortmund would use rotation more than Leverkusen."

Nam Tae-Hee, one of the most technically gifted South Korean footballers, turned down Dortmund for Valenciennes in 2009. 

He's now playing for Lekhwiya in the Qatar Stars League. 

Son won't rue the decision to sign with Leverkusen because he's eyeing the same role André Schürrle had last season. 

On paper, Schürrle was a left-sided forward but in reality, he was a quasi-No. 9.

This freedom enabled Schürrle to shoot 122 times, 44 more shots than Son, who outscored the German international by a single goal. 

If Son shot 122 times with his 6.5 shots per goal average, he would have netted 19 Bundesliga goals, two more than Cha's 17-goal haul during the 1985-86 season for Leverkusen. 

It's a similar role Lee Kwang-Jong asked Son to do at the 2009 FIFA U-17 World Cup when the then teenager scored two more goals than Neymar. 

Next season might be the time kicker and Bild finally give Son the acclaim he deserves. 



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Statistics courtesy of WhoScored.comFox Soccer and


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