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Asian soccer stars reluctant to return

sports Updated: Aug 17, 2011 23:58 IST

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Park Ji-sung and Harry Kewell are playing it cool about returning to their home country's football leagues, illustrating the reluctance among many Asian football exports to make the journey home.

Park has virtually ruled out a swansong season in the Korean league, while Kewell is dragging his feet over a possible return to Australia. Hidetoshi Nakata never returned to club football in Japan after his success in Europe.

Park, 30, has signed a new two-year contract with English champion Manchester United and has spoken of his desire to end his playing days in Europe. He has never played in the K-League and is not enthusiastic about the prospect. "Maybe it's possible but I want to play more in Europe as much as I can," he told Associated Press before his latest contract extension. Instead of wanting to head home, he urges talented South Koreans to join him in Europe.

The debate about whether star players should return to help their national leagues is loudest in Australia, where clubs are eager to sign Kewell and national team captain Lucas Neill, both of whom were released from Galatasaray.

Neill, 33, has been linked with a move to the United Arab Emirates while Kewell has been at the center of a 'will he-won't he?' transfer saga all summer.