South Korean midfielder Kwon Hyuk-kyu (Celtic) has struggled in his debut season as he has been left out of the roster for the European campaign.
Celtic announced its 25-man squad for the 2023/24 UEFA Champions League group stages on Wednesday. Celtic won the Scottish Premiership title last season and qualified directly for the group stage as champions.
UEFA held the draw for the group stage of the 2023/24 UEFA Champions League at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco on July 1. A total of 32 teams have been invited to compete on UEFA’s premier stage of club competition, dubbed the ‘War of the Stars’, and in a draw that is one of the biggest determinants of each team’s progression to the round of 16, Celtic have been drawn in Group E alongside Feyenoord (Netherlands), Atletico Madrid (Spain) and SS Lazio (Italy).
Feyenoord entered the group after being crowned Dutch champions for the first time in six years last season, while Atletico are a powerhouse in Spanish La Liga alongside Real Madrid and Barcelona. Lazio also finished second in the Italian Serie A last season, behind SSC Napoli, who won the league title thanks to the play of Kim Min-jae (Bayern Munich).
With an uphill battle ahead for Celtic in their quest to reach the round of 16, Korean soccer fans were hoping to see the “Korean Trio” of Oh Hyun-gyu, Yang Hyun-joon, and Kwon Hyuk-gyu make their Champions League debuts for Celtic.
Yang Hyun-joon and Kwon Hyun-gyu joined Celtic in the summer transfer window ahead of the 2023/24 season, and this is their first year with the Hoops. Oh joined in January but did not get a chance to play in European competition as Celtic finished bottom of Group D in last season’s Champions League group stage behind Real Madrid, RB Leipzig and Shakhtar Donetsk.
As such, all three South Korean players are playing in European competition for the first time in their careers this season. And with the Champions League being the biggest stage in world soccer, the expectations of Korean fans were high, but Celtic shocked them when they left Kwon Hyuk-kyu out of their 25-man roster.
According to the UEFA website, Celtic’s 25-man squad for the Champions League group stage includes Oh Hyun-gyu and Yang Hyun-joon, but Kwon’s name is nowhere to be found. Only 10 midfielders were selected, but Kwon was left out.
“Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers has named his squad for the group stage, with no room for summer signings Mike Navroczki, Marco Tilio and Kwon Hyuk-gyu,” said British publication The Sun.
Navrotzky, a Polish defender born in 2001, and Tilio, an Australian winger born in 2001, were both new summer signings ahead of the new season, as were Kwon and Yang. However, both players were young and not fully acclimatized to the team, and injuries could have kept them off the roster.
However, despite being injury-free and consistently attending training since joining the team, Kwon has yet to make his debut and has not been included in the Champions League squad, suggesting that he may not even be in Rodgers’ plans. 안전놀이터
Since joining Celtic, Kwon has spent three of his four league games on the bench. In one of those games, he was even left off the roster. He was expected to be given a chance in cup competitions due to his lack of playing time in the league, but he also watched from the bench in the Scottish League Cup.