Ki Sung-yueng explains a big change for him at Newcastle United after momentous decision

Newcastle United’s Ki Sung-yueng says he’ll be even better next season – having had the summer off for the first time in his career.

Ki Sung-yueng.
Ki Sung-yueng.

The midfielder joined the club on a free transfer last summer after his contract at Swansea City expired.

Ki, however, didn’t make his Premier League debut until mid-October after missing part of pre-season because of his involvement in the World Cup, and he had to leave to link up with his South Korea team-mates ahead of the Asian Cup on Boxing Day.

The 30-year-old came back from the tournament with an injury, and eventually returned to the field in February.

Ki has has since retired from international football, and he feels that he will benefit from a summer off.

“This will be the first full vacation of my career,” said the 110-cap player. “I want to rest very well with my family, as that’s never happened in my life before. I always had international games in my holidays. So, hopefully, I’ll spend six weeks well, and come back stronger.

“After the World Cup, I had two or three weeks off, and I didn’t prepare well in pre-season. Hopefully, next season the pre-season will be much stronger, and I will do better than this season.

“If you have international games, you have to train. That’s not rest. You have to train and play in the summer, and after that you three weeks off and have to come back to the team. It’s very difficult.

“Mentally, of course, you need a rest, because the whole season you have a lot of pressure and stress from the games and everything.”

Ki, one of the most experienced players at the club, “learnt a lot” from manager Rafa Benitez last season.

Reflecting on his first year at Newcastle, he said: “I had an injury, and then the first period of the season I didn’t play much. I went to the Asian Cup, and came back with the injury, so it was a little bit confused.

“But, I think, it was a great experience working with the manager. He’s the top manager in the league. I learnt a lot of things from him. Hopefully, next season, it’ll be better than this season.”