Ki Sung-yueng: ‘Every time I played Newcastle, I felt real envy because of the fans’

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Newcastle United are up and running in the transfer market – after signing free agent Ki Sung-yueng.

The midfielder, released by relegated Swansea City, yesterday signed a two-year deal at St James’s Park.

Everyone knows how big this club is, so I’m really looking forward to playing with my team-mates and for the fans.

KI Sung-yueng

Rafa Benitez – who has been involved in a transfer budget stand-off with owner Mike Ashley – said it was an “easy decision” to sign the 29-year-old, who went to the World Cup with South Korea.

However, it is unclear whether Benitez and Ashley – who has been pushing his manager to sign a new deal – have agreed a budget for the rest of the club’s summer transfer business.

“I’m so pleased I can join the club,” said South Korea captain Ki, who has won 104 international caps.

I was always pleasantly surprised when I came to St James’s Park to play against Newcastle – there’s a great atmosphere and the passion from the fans is a great support to the players.

“Every time I came here to play against Newcastle, I felt real envy because of the fans.”

Ki – who had a loan spell at Sunderland earlier in his career – will add Premier League experience to Benitez’s squad.

Benitez said: “I’m pleased to welcome Ki to the club.

“He’s a player with lots of Premier League and international experience, and it was an easy decision to bring him here.

“He is the captain of his country, a good character, and he will be a good addition to the squad.”

Ki is the club’s second summer signing.

United signed goalkeeper Martin Dubravka – who spent the second half of last season on loan at St James’s Park – from Sparta Prague at the end of the season.

Ki’s arrival comes ahead of the anticipated departure of midfielder Mikel Merino, who has a release clause in his Newcastle contract.

The 22-year-old, signed last year from Borussia Dortmund, is expected to join Real Sociedad.