Teerasil Dangda to join Sanfrecce Hiroshima after clash with JDT
Muang Thong United striker Teerasil Dangda will become the second Thailand international in the J.League's top tier next year having sealed a one-year loan deal with Sanfrecce Hiroshima.
Teerasil joined the Japanese side one year to the day after playmaker Chanathip Songkrasin signed an 18-month loan deal with Consadole Sapporo.
But Teerasil will stay on for Muang Thong's AFC Champions League preliminary round clash against Malaysia's Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) on Jan. 23rd. And he will also be available for the following week's ACL playoff if the Kirins can overcome JDT.
He will then fly to Japan to participate in final preparations for the 2018 J.League season, which begins on Feb. 24.
Playing overseas is nothing new to Teerasil, having spent six months on loan at La Liga side UD Almeria in 2014. The striker, capped 91 times by his country, is familiar with the challenges and ready to face them.
"I am very excited to be able to play abroad," Teerasil said. "There will be some challenges adjusting to the language, the weather, and getting to know my new teammates."
The 29-year-old's outstanding performances in this year's ACL suggested he had the ability to perform at a higher level than the Thai League. Teerasil struck five times in seven games as Muang Thong made an impressive run to the last 16.
Sanfrecce will certainly be hoping that he can give them a lift after a dramatic fall from grace in the last two years. The 2015 champions narrowly avoided relegation this year, so they will be looking to the four-time T1 champion to help the team recover from such a poor season.
Sanfrecce will hope that Teerasil can hit the same levels of performances as Chanathip, who has firmly established himself in the Consadole first team since his midseason move.
But the striker insisted that he was not concerned by any expectation to emulate Chanathip's impressive start with Consadole.
"I do not feel any more pressure," Teerasil said. "I will do my best regardless, and I hope to please the fans next year."
Meanwhile, T1 saw another big transfer as last season's 38-goal top scorer Dragan Boskovic moved to Port FC from Bangkok United.
The Montenegrin striker is the latest big signing by the club, having already added South Korean midfielder Kim Sung-hwan to the squad as well as Thailand internationals Nurul Sriyankem and Bodin Phala.
Boskovic admits the famous atmosphere at the PAT stadium was one of the key factors in attracting him to the Bangkok-based club, who ended the 2017 season in ninth place.
"I live next to the stadium so I know the atmosphere and I'm really happy to join a club such as Port because they have something special," Boskovic told ESPN FC. "They have some of the best fans and one of the best atmospheres in the Thai League.
"I hope to achieve something with my team. We will try to go for everything that we can.
"We have bought some good players and, of course, the pressure is bigger [than last season], but I think we can rise to the task and get a better position, for sure."
Bangkok-based Paul Murphy has lived in Asia for a decade, writing for ESPN FC since 2014. He is a former Daily Express sub-editor. @PaulMurphyBKK