Last Friday, SCG Muangthong United announced it had reached an agreement to sell football star Chanathip Songkrasin to Japanese team Consadole Sapporo on a five-year contract.
The deal is a historic milestone for Thai football.
Chanathip, who plays in midfield for the Thailand national team, becomes the first Thai footballer to move to a major overseas league on a permanent deal – he had been on loan to the J-League side.
He was rewarded for great performances that added variety and penetration, helping to lift a team that had been battling relegation up to a mid-table finish of 11th last season.
That improvement has continued this season, with Chanathip helping Consadole Sapporo rise to fifth in the table by scoring three goals and making two assists. Recently, in the Emperor’s Cup, he scored a goal and made one assist. His first two goals in the J-League came from headers, despite the fact he is only 1.58 metres tall.
Chanathip has outstanding dribbling and passing skills. But since he moved to Japan, he has improved both his offensive and defensive game. He has become a prime player who is now an indispensable member of one of Asia’s top club sides.
Chanathip was always a talented player. But his breakthrough onto the international scene demonstrates that Thai footballers also need hard work and a constant determination to develop themselves, if they want to succeed at the highest level.