Vietnamese star midfielder parts ways with French club

By Hieu Luong   June 4, 2023 | 10:40 pm PT
Midfielder Nguyen Quang Hai has ended his contract with Ligue 2 club Pau FC one year early and will return to playing in Vietnam.

"We have reached an agreement," Pau FC president Bernard Laporte Fray told French newspaper La Rep des Pyrenees on Sunday. "Quang Hai will leave as a free agent and will soon find a new club."

On June 1, Hai’s agent had a meeting with Fray. The agreement was reached two days later when Pau defeated Caen 1-0 in the last fixture of Ligue 2 and escaped relegation. Hai did not play, but he met with his teammates to say goodbye after.

Midfielder Nguyen Quang Hai in Pau FCs jersey. Photo by Pau FC

Midfielder Nguyen Quang Hai in Pau FC's jersey. Photo by Pau FC

After leaving Pau, Hai has reportedly reached an agreement with a club in the V. League. With no interest from clubs in Europe, Japan, South Korea or Thailand, Hai chose to return to Vietnam.

The 26-year-old is set to become the highest-paid domestic player in V. League with a salary of over VND100 million ($4,255) a month if he joins the new club.

Hai joined Pau in June last year on a two-year deal. However, he could not adapt to the environment of Ligue 2, the French second-tier, and gradually lost his place in the team.

In the 2022-2023 season, Hai played 13 games with a total time of 268 minutes, only 20.6 minutes per game, and scored one goal. The most recent game he played for the first team was on February 18. After that, he played seven games with a total time of 579 minutes for the reserved team Pau B in National 3, the fifth tier.

"Hai’s lack of playing time said a lot about adaptation and physical requirements in Ligue 2," Fray said. "His physique is not his strength."

Hai is one of the most prominent footballers in Vietnam, having won four V. League titles, two National Cup and three Super Cup titles.

He is also a key player of the national team and has won the SEA Games 2019 gold medal, the 2018 AFF Cup title and advanced to the final qualifiers of the World Cup for the first time in the country’s history.

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