Thai star Theerathon Bunmathan keen on Vissel Kobe move
Thailand's Theerathon Bunmathan has said it would be a dream to become the latest Muangthong United star to swap the Thai League for the J.League after Vissel Kobe reportedly started negotiations to take the player to Japan.
Theerathon, who can play at left-back or on the left or centre of midfield, has been targeted by Vissel following loan deals for Chanathip Songkrasin at Consadole Sapporo and Teerasil Dangda at Sanfrecce Hiroshima.
"It's very exciting to hear that Vissel Kobe are interested in me because it is my dream to play in the J.League to help me develop my game and to return to Thailand a better player," Theerathon told Siam Sport.
If Theerathon were to make the move to Japan, he would be following in the footsteps of playmaker Chanathip, who is currently six months into an 18-month loan deal at Consadole Sapporo, while Muangthong striker Teerasil last week sealed a one-year loan to Sanfrecce to begin in February 2018.
Theerathon will need no introduction to many Japanese fans, having seen him net an excellent free kick against Kashima Antlers in Muangthong's 2-1 victory over the J.League side in the 2017 AFC Champions League (ACL) group stage.
He also faced numerous Japanese opponents in the ACL during his time at former club Buriram United.
Theerathon scored against Cerezo Osaka in 2014 and also found the target home and away to Gamba Osaka the following year.
Despite the excitement generated by the possibility of a transfer, the 27-year-old insists that his immediate focus is on helping Muangthong to get back into the ACL group stage.
After the second leg of the Mekong Club Championship against Vietnamese side Sanna Khánh Hòa on Jan. 6, Muangthong prepare to face Malaysian champions Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) in the ACL preliminary round on Jan. 23.
"I would like to concentrate on Muangthong first," Theerathon said. "We have an important second match of the Mekong Club Championship as well as playing in the ACL qualifiers and I would like to help the team reach the group stage again."
Muangthong have managed to ensure that Teerasil will be at the club for the clash with JDT and if Theerathon is move on, they will hope to strike a similar deal.
Bangkok-based Paul Murphy has lived in Asia for a decade, writing for ESPN FC since 2014. He is a former Daily Express sub-editor. @PaulMurphyBKK