It has been an odd season for Kim Kee-hee. Seemingly one of the pillars of the defense for the foreseeable future at the start of the season, he’s struggled over the past few months with a rotation of partners next to him.
Despite those struggles — and maybe because of them — there are rumors of interest from abroad.
According to Saudi Arabian media, Al Nassr are in talks with Seattle Sounders defender Kim Kee-hee.— Korea Football News (@KORFootballNews) August 14, 2019
While it seems highly unlikely that the Sounders would be itching to part with Kim at a time when they’re suddenly looking pretty short-handed at centerback, it doesn’t seem quite as unlikely that his agent could be looking to make a move. When Kim came to the Sounders early last season, his career appeared to be stalling out after losing his starting spot with Chinese Super League team Shanghai Shenhua.
After a short acclimating period, Kim eventually emerged as arguably the Sounders’ most dynamic defender last year and started this season strong.
But Kim hasn’t quite been the same since Chad Marshall’s retirement and hasn’t yet meshed well with new Designated Player Xavier Arreaga. Assuming the Sounders are committed to Arreaga, that could make Kim expendable at the end of the year when his contract is apparently up. Assuming that’s accurate, Kim could theoretically sign a pre-contract now and go to Al Nassr at the end of the MLS season.
Regardless of their future plans, it’s hard to imagine the Sounders letting him go before then. In addition to missing Marshall, they’re also without Román Torres for at least another two months. If Kim were allowed to leave, the only remaining centerbacks on the roster would be Saad Abdul-Salaam and Jonathan Campbell. With the transfer window now closed, they could theoretically sign someone from Tacoma Defiance, but their most pro-ready centerback is currently on trial in Belgium.
That said, I’m sure there’s a price at which the Sounders would be compelled to let Kim go and Al Nassr is at least capable of making an offer that is too good to pass up. The Saudi Arabian giants have spent more than $50 million on the transfer market since last year and appear to be in the market for a centerback.