Park follows in footsteps of Beckham and Ronaldo

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Ji-Sung Park's £2million transfer to Queens Park Rangers is by far the most surprising piece of business conducted during the summer transfer window thus far.

After the former Manchester United midfielder put pen to paper on a two-year deal at Loftus Road, Rs boss Mark Hughes will take satisfaction from the fact that he has pulled off quite a considerable coup.

In the 31-year-old South Korean, QPR have captured a versatile, tactically astute player, comfortable in a variety of roles and formations, and also increased the club's profile tenfold, with hats doffed to the Asian market.

Park's Old Trafford departure was met with a chorus of appreciation and fitting tributes for his commitment to the United cause, during a seven-year stay in Manchester.

Unsung in some quarters but never in his own dressing room, the midfielder enjoyed an equally warm status among Red Devils supporters as he did his team-mates since arriving from PSV Eindhoven in 2005.

"Ji's a fantastic player and a real players' player," Rio Ferdinand told "He's been greatly appreciated by the other lads and the fans of our club over the years.

"He's been a great servant and never been any trouble. He's just a real selfless player who has always played for his team-mates and he was part of a very successful period for the club.

"I'm sad to see him go because he's a really good lad as well - after three or four years he really came out of his shell and was one of the lads, making a lot of jokes. As I said I'm sad to see him go as he's a really nice guy."

'Three-lung Park' as he is known by many in Manchester - a nickname born out of his typically energetic and dynamic displays - helped United to four league titles, a Club World Cup and three League Cups during his time at Old Trafford, establishing himself as an integral part of Sir Alex Ferguson's squad.

But, as his first-team involvement began to wane, the timing to move on suited both parties; a fair reward for a player who deserved better than the notion of running down his career as nothing more than a bit part player.

Over the years, Ferguson has mastered the ability to judge when the time is right to sell. Most players that leave United are either sold as they enter the twilight of their careers, with their best years very much behind them. Or, in the case of younger players, on the club's books from an early age, they are moved on having failed to prove they possess the necessary quality to succeed.

David Beckham was one exception to that trend, though. Cristiano Ronaldo another. But, in both cases, factors other than pure footballing ability had to be considered. While one fell foul of Ferguson thanks to his ever-increasing off-field celebrity – something that was deemed to be a distraction from football - the other had a burning desire to test himself in Spain.

Both Beckham and Ronaldo followed the same path to La Liga giants Real Madrid - one of the few clubs in Europe so steeped in history, that it is actually on a par with the great Manchester United in terms of allure and prestige.

United received over £100million in fees for the respective sales of two of their most high-profile stars, and went on to re-invest the money wisely, ensuring the loss of such distinguished players didn't impact on the squad too heavily.

The £2million received for Park's transfer to west London is minuscule by comparison, but the capture of Borussia Dortmund playmaker Shinji Kagawa proves the club have acknowledged the off-field importance the presence of one of Asia's leading lights has on the club's worldwide standing.

As with Beckham and Ronaldo, Park still has plenty to offer. The conclusion of his Manchester United career does not mean the beginning of the end for him.

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Premier League
Manchester United
Queens Park Rangers
Ji-Sung Park

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