who played for Ulsan Hyundai, responded to the return request from Shandong Taishan fans in China.
On the 2nd (Korean time), through his social media (SNS), Leonardo shared the background of his long stay in his home country Brazil, saying, “So many Shandong fans send me messages asking when I will return to China.”
“Last season’s K-League schedule 안전놀이터 ended at the end of October. Since then, I have returned to Brazil and have been exercising alone while on vacation. His return to China is set for the end of February. This is because the new season of the Chinese Super League (CSL) kicks off in late March or early April. So please wait a little bit.”
Leonardo is a player who has experienced all stages in Korea, China and Japan. He started with Gainare Acorn (J3 League) in 2018, then played for Albirex Niigata (J1 League) in 2019 and Urawa Red (J1 League) in 2020 for one year each. In 2021 he left for Shandong, China.
Then, in the 2022 season, he transferred to K-League Ulsan for a one-year lease. Leonardo scored 11 goals and 4 assists in 34 K-League matches. Thanks to Leonardo’s great success, Ulsan became the K-League champion in 17 years. It was the first league win in Leonardo’s entire professional career.
According to the terms of the contract, Leonardo must return to his original team, Shandong. However, after leaving for Brazil after the K-League 2022 season and not getting on a plane to China, Shandong fans were worried about Leonardo’s future.
Perhaps aware of this, Leonardo reassured the fans by saying, “I have three more years left on my contract with Shandong.” He also said, “As in Korea, I am always full of desire to win. I will train hard in Brazil and return to China.”
Meanwhile, Ulsan, which parted ways with Leonardo, signed Joo Min-kyu, who ranked second in the K-League 1 scoring last season, and Swedish striker Rubiksson. With the combination of existing strikers Martin Adam, Um Won-sang, and Lee Chung-yong and new strikers, they challenge to win the K-League for the second year in a row.