Central defender Kim Ji-su (19, Seongnam), who helped South Korea reach the quarterfinals of the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2023, is close to joining English Premier League (EPL) side Brentford.

Seongnam Mayor Shin Sang-jin, who owns professional soccer’s K League 2 (second division) club Seongnam, posted a photo on social media Thursday of Kim and the mayor’s office, saying, “Kim Ji-su is leaving the country next week to join Brentford.”

Brentford sent a formal offer to Seongnam last month that included a transfer fee that met Kim’s $700,000 (about 900 million won) 메이저놀이터 buyout (the minimum transfer fee that allows a player to leave a team without the consent of his club) and a sell-on clause. The sell-on clause means that Seongnam will share a portion of the transfer fee if Kim Ji-soo later transfers from Brentford to another club. Seongnam is currently negotiating the details with Brentford. Kim Ji-soo will travel to England to conduct personal negotiations on his salary and other matters before taking a medical test. “It is expected that Kim Ji-soo’s joining Brentford will be officially announced at the beginning of next month at the latest,” said a Seongnam official.

The work permit issue, which was expected to be a stumbling block to Kim’s EPL move, has also been resolved. The English Football Association (FA) announced that new rules on work permits will come into effect on Thursday to open the door for overseas players to come to England. The new rules will allow clubs in the EPL and Championship to sign up to four players, and Ligue 1 (third division) and Ligue 2 (fourth division) clubs to sign up to two players, even if they are not eligible for a work permit.

Until now, the threshold for entry into England has been higher than leagues in other countries due to work permit issues. To be eligible for a work permit, players had to meet a number of criteria, including the percentage of A-match appearances in the previous two years, the grade of their league, the percentage of league appearances for their club, and their club’s performance last season. Kim has yet to be called up to the senior national team, so the FA’s relaxation of the rules should make it easier for him to get a work permit.

The 6-foot-2 Kim started all seven of South Korea’s games at central defense at the U-20 World Cup, which concluded on Dec. 12 in Argentina. Kim, who has been dubbed the “next Kim Min-jae,” made his debut in the K League 1 last year as a semi-professional and played 19 games. This season, he signed a full professional contract and made one appearance. If Kim joins Brentford, he will become the first South Korean teenager to play in the EPL. It will also be the first player to go directly from the K League 2 to the EPL. Brentford, based in London, England, finished ninth in the league in the 2022-2023 season.

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