Not fixed on one system
New signing Dong-Won Ji brings experience, quality, tactical flexibility and he can score with both feet.
Making good signings is one of the tasks that lie ahead for the upcoming transfer window. Rouven Schröder already emphasised this in the match programme ‘Der Nullfünfer’ in the home game vs. RB Leipzig. Three days after the 3-3 draw against the team placed third in the Bundesliga table, the Mainz Sporting Director presented the club’s first new signing of the summer: Dong-Won Ji. The 27-year-old Korean, whose contract with FC Augsburg runs out at the end of the season, joins the 05ers on a free transfer and shares similar visions to the Mainz hierarchy.
“We don’t just want to sign young, talented players. Instead, we want to think outside the box at how some more experienced players can help the team,” explained Schröder. A 27 or 29 year-old can play an important role for a team and spend a couple of successful years at the club. “We have always made rational plans, not emotional plans. We are always striving to improve. We will question every position and look at the contract situation, the financial situation and where our priorities lie.”
A hard-worker just like previous Asian 05ers
The transfer of the Augsburg striker makes a lot of sense. Ji has spent seven years in Germany, speaks German and has also spent time in England with Sunderland. The Korean has also made several international appearances for his country and knows the Bundesliga well. The flexible striker is able to shoot with both feet and brings a new quality and true routine to the 05ers squad. “Dong-Won Ji is a flexible attacker who can play in multiple positions and in various formations. He is a talented football and has a good physique. We wanted quality and flexibility,” said Sandro Schwarz. “He can play in a wide position both in a 4-3-3 and in a 4-4-2 formation, he can play as a second striker as well as in the number eight or number ten role. I think it’s always interesting when a player isn’t fixed to a certain position,” added Schwarz.
Ji can play well down the wings and has a good first touch. He also works hard when the opposition are in possession. He also works hard, just like previous Asian footballers who have played in Mainz. This was the case with fellow Korean Ja-Cheol Koo, who played with Ji in Augsburg, Yoshinori Muto and most of all, Japanese striker Shinji Okazaki. “In our opinion, we see a player who improves us as a team,” said Schwarz. Schröder added that it was a bonus to sign a true team player on a free.
Naturally, the 05ers head coach refused to add what sort of role Dong-Won Ji would play in his team. “It is exciting to have so many players who can play in multiple positions,” explained Schwarz. “For example, based on planning our squad, we had intensions for Jean-Paul Boëtius to play on the left, but it turned out that he was most suited for the number ten role in our system. You cannot enter a season with players who can only play down the middle. There could be phases in which the opposition know your system and you want to switch to a 4-3-3 – but you have no wingers to bring on. It is therefore important to have players in your squad who can play in multiple positions. This really does make you less predictable.”