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Rediff.com  » Sports » South Korea striker Ahn linked with Atletico Madrid

South Korea striker Ahn linked with Atletico Madrid

January 10, 2003 17:19 IST

South Korea striker Ahn Jung-hwan could soon join Spanish first division club Atletico Madrid, a Japanese newspaper reported on Friday.

However, his J-League club Shimizu S-Pulse have been quick to play down the report, saying: "It's news to us."

Ahn, who helped co-hosts South Korea reach the semi-finals of the World Cup last year, could complete a $3.1 million move to Atletico as early as next week, according to the Nikkan Sports.

The 26-year-old had his heart set on a move to English premier league club Blackburn Rovers last August until the deal broke down due to visa problems.

Now Ahn, who subsequently joined S-Pulse on a one-year contract in September, has apparently chosen Atletico despite attracting interest from a number of clubs including Greek side Olimpiakos, Italian Serie A club Brescia and Bastia of France.

But S-Pulse

officials insisted they have not received an offer from Atletico.

"We have heard nothing whatsoever regarding Ahn Jung-hwan. S-Pulse have had no contact (with Atletico) at all," S-Pulse spokesman Kazuyoshi Nishizawa told Reuters.

If Ahn, who famously scored the golden goal that knocked Italy out of the World Cup, does leave midway through his current contract it would only add to the problems facing new S-Pulse manager Takeshi Oki.

Japan World Cup duo Kazuyuki Toda and Daisuke Ichikawa are currently in Europe on two-week trials with Sunderland and Strasbourg respectively and an exodus of internationals could result in another season of frustration for S-Pulse.

The Shizuoka club finished a disappointing 12th in the J-League second stage under Yugoslav manager Zdravko Zemunovic last season.