Samut Prakan City are fresh off the back of losing captain Peeradol Chamratsamee and vice-captain Jakkaphan Praisuwan to Buriram United and BG Pathum respectively, and now face a major rebuild.
The side now have key holes to fill and continue to lack depth in their squad. With a limited transfer budget and little room to maneuver in the market, reinvigorating their team could be a tough challenge. Here are some signings that the Sea Fang should consider making before the start of the upcoming campaign.
A chief playmaker
Samut Prakan’s first transfer priority has to be a like-for-like replacement for Peeradol. The captain’s departure leaves them without a playmaker in midfield, making coach Masatada Ishii’s possession-based football virtually impossible. They should take this opportunity to invest in a younger player with potential to grow and serve the club for seasons to come.
An interesting choice for them could be Port FC’s Sansern Limwattana, who fulfills a similar role to Peeradol. Comfortable dictating play from deep, he can also make a difference in more advanced positions with defense-splitting key passes. At 24 years old, he clearly possesses abundant talent, but his potential is yet to be unlocked due to a lack of consistent game-time and off-field issues. He spent the second half of last season on loan at Trat FC, a club with a reputation for helping get estranged young talents back on track, so he could be well poised for a good season if his team and coach show faith in him. Since he is unlikely to get much game time at Port next season, this move could be ideal for both the player and the club.
A player of a similar age and profile is Wongsakorn Chaikultewin of Muangthong United. Also 24, he finally got his chance with the Kirins’ first team last season after a staggering nine loan spells between 2014 and 2021, and has been a solid performer thus far. Formerly a number 10, he has been utilized as a deeper lying playmaker in the possession-based style of coach Mario Gjurovski to good effect. Since he is not yet a guaranteed starter at the SCG Stadium, he could still be prized away with a good offer, though it may be harder to snag him.
A backup playmaker
Samut Prakan’s lack of depth was a key factor in undermining them last season, and it is something they are yet to address. Whoever their new playmaker is, without a second singing in the same position, there will be too much pressure on expectation on his shoulders. The Sea Fang should also consider going for someone younger in a similar mould and position who they can build up for the future and bring in when they want to rotate the squad.
Bangkok United’s Chayathorn Tapsuvanavon springs to mind as a plausible option. The 21-year-old midfielder is highly rated by the club’s coaching staff and was set for a loan spell with FC Tokyo’s U23 side before COVID-19 disrupted those plans. Chayathorn saw the pitch just twice last season, and he is still far from the Angels’ first eleven. However, his composure on the ball and passing range make him a very exciting prospect for any club willing to take a chance on him.
For an even younger option, Chainat’s 19-year-old Chatuphum Kaewklang had an impressive campaign in Thai League 2 last year. He registered an impressive 15 appearances and looked unfazed in the heart of midfield despite his relative inexperience. His development in Ronald Boretti’s side, who aim to dominate possession and dictate the tempo, could make him a good fit for Ishii’s similarly possession-based approach.
Another central defender
Even before Jakkaphan Praisuwan left the club, Samut Prakan were in desperate need of an additional central defender. The side received Sarayut Sompim from Buriram as part of the deal to take Peeradol to the Thunder Castle, but that still does not sufficiently fill the gaps in the heart of their defense.
Who they recruit largely depends on whether they see Sarayut as a first choice defender or a backup. If it’s the latter, Sukhothai FC’s Nukoolkit Krutyai could be an exciting option for the Sea Fang. His performances last season earned him occasional call-ups to the provisional National Team squad, and his ball-playing ability makes him a good replacement for Jakkaphan. However, Sukhothai will likely demand a transfer fee for his services, and it is difficult to see Samut Prakan footing the bill when they only recouped 15 million Baht for both of their key departures.
A more realistic option for the side could be Port’s Thitawee Aksornsri. An impressive showing at the AFC U23 Championships at the start of last year earned the defender a move to the PAT Stadium, but he has been largely neglected and spent most of his time in reserve. A chance to compete for first team football once again could help get his career back on track.
Lastly, Police Tero’s Chalermsak Aukkee should also be on Samut Prakan’s radar. He has enough quality on the ball to fit Ishii’s possession-based system, while his larger frame and defensive solidity could make up for some of his predecessor’s shortcomings as well. However, he may also be difficult to sway, since he is currently a regular starter for the Fire Dragons.
An attacking left back
After losing both Ernesto and Jetjinn Sriprach this window, the Sea Fang were left with a clean slate on the left side of their defense. For the latter half of last season, Ishii occasionally instructed the normally attack-minded Ernesto to hold his position in defense, forming a makeshift back-three while allowing right-back Suphanan Bureerat to get forward. Their new left-back Kittipong Sansanit is a more defensive option and will find this role more natural. However, an attacking option in this position would help bring more balance to their squad and give Ishii room to be more flexible with his approach.
Phrae United’s Adisorn Supphaso had an excellent campaign in Thai League 2 last year as the Horsemen made an unexpected promotion push, and he could be tempted by the opportunity to move up to the top division. His ability as a set-piece taker will also be a welcome bonus for the side. However, being 30 years of age will be a mark against him, since the Sea Fang have shown a preference for signing younger players.
Another left-back who had an excellent campaign in T2 last year was Khon Kaen United’s Suwit Paipromrat, who has been on the radar of some of the division’s top sides such as Muangthong and Buriram. However, the King Cobras have set a high price on him after their promotion to the top flight, and he is unlikely to leave without the guarantee of first-team football – not the ideal fit if the club are looking for a rotation option.
Another option for the immediate future could be BG Pathum’s Apisit Sorada, who has to compete with both Ernesto and Yodrak Namuangrak for a place in the Rabbits’ starting XI. At age 24, he would likely take the opportunity to move away if given the chance to play first-team football. Unlike the aforementioned options, he has experience playing in T1, and made 37 appearances for BG before spending last season on loan with Chiangmai FC.
The most speculative option, though potentially most exciting, is 18-year-old Warinthon Jamnongwat from Chainat. Just like his teammate Chatuphum, Warinthon made 15 appearances for the Hornbills last season, and his ability to get up and down the flank made a big impression. His early start playing competitive football suggests a high ceiling, making him a smart option from both a footballing and business standpoint.