Tottenham Hotspur news: Does Heung-min Son have to complete national service in South Korea?
Tottenham could lose 18-goal forward Heung-Min Son for two years to the South Korean Army, The Sun have revealed.
Under Korean law, all men must do 21 months of National Service before their 28th birthday.
Son, 25, reaches that milestone in July 2019 and any military call-up would rule him out of the 2019/20 and 2020/21 seasons.
However, as Martin Lipton writes, the South Korean government does give exemptions for sports stars who perform exceptionally at major tournaments.
It means the in-form Tottenham ace could get a free pass if his country shines during Russia 2018.
South Korea have been drawn in Group F with Germany, Sweden and Mexico — and would need to match their World Cup performance in 2002 by reaching the last four.
But with that an unlikely scenario — the national team's best effort since co-hosting was reaching the last 16 in 2010 — Son has two other get-out routes.
If South Korea and Son were to win either the 2018 Asian Games or the 2019 Asian Cup, the Spurs man would be given his exemption by the Army.
South Korea want Son, their best player, to be one of their three over-age players in the Asian Games, which takes place in Indonesia between 18 August and 2 September.
They won it in 2014 without Son after his then-club Bayer Leverkusen refused to release him for the tournament in the UAE.
Son could miss Tottenham’s first four games of next season if he is included in the Asian Games squad.
And Mauricio Pochettino’s side played eight matches this season between 5 January and 1 February, which is when the Asian Cup is being held.
But the manager would probably see the upside of not losing the attacking midfielder for nearly two years as a gamble worth taking.
Versatile Son is enjoying a stunning season, scoring 18 times as Spurs close in on another top-four finish.
Team-mate Dele Alli explained he is a joy to play with, while left-back Danny Rose praised him both for his displays on the pitch and his manner off it.
“Sonny is very under-rated," he said. "Goals aside, people don’t get to see his attitude on a daily basis.
“He’s always bubbly whether he plays or not and deserves all the plaudits.
“He’s closing in on 20 goals again and that’s something to be delighted with.”