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Volleyball star, now a free agent, seeks a home

May 10,2017
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From left, Kim Yeon-kyoung speaks to reporters during a press conference at Incheon International Airport on Monday. Kim kisses the trophy after winning the Turkish Cup with Eda Erdem Dundar on May 3. [YONHAP]
After leading Fenebahce to the Turkish league championship for the 2016-17 season, Kim Yeon-kyoung, one of the world’s best attackers, returned to Korea on Monday.

The completion of the season means a lot to Kim, as her one year contract with Fenebahce has also ended, making her a free agent.

“I will make my decision by the end of this week,” Kim said at Incheon International Airport. “The schedule should not have any conflicts with the national team schedule and the competitiveness of the league will be another factor.”

For Kim, who is the highest paid volleyball player in the world, the choices are limited since there aren’t that many teams that can meet her salary expectations. Not only Fenebahce, but rival teams in the Turkish league and a team in China have been showing great interest in having Kim join their ranks.

Fenebahce will also continue its effort to sign another contract with Kim. Though they are struggling financially, they’ve separated Kim as the team’s key player and Kim said Fenebahce is on her list.

The Chinese league is another good option. Unlike the Turkish league, the world’s best in women’s volleyball, the Chinese league is still semi-professional, but after winning a gold medal at the Rio Olympics, they are developing into a professional league rapidly. The Chinese league will be more flexible for Kim as the season is shorter compared to the European league and closer to Korea in distance.

Prior to starting her career in the Turkish League, Kim played for Incheon Heungkuk Life Pink until 2005 and Japan Marvelous in 2011. Then she signed a three-year contract with her former team, Fenebahce. After her contract ended, she signed on for another two years, after which she stayed an additional year with Fenebahce.

Fenebahce is considered to be the best in the Turkish league, winning various championships such as the CEV Women’s Champions League, Womens’ CEV Cup, Turkish Women’s Volleyball League, Turkish Cup and Turkish Super Cup. During her career with the team, they’ve won the Turkish Cup twice and when they won in 2014-15 season, Kim was named MVP. In 2016-17 season, Fenebahce finished the regular season second but they won the play-off championship against Galatasaray.

BY KIM HYO-KYUNG [kang.yoorim@joongang.co.kr]