SINGAPORE: 2021 Singapore Premier League champions Lion City Sailors welcomed the return of midfield maestro Song Uiyong to the club as it bolstered its strength ahead of the new 2024-25 season.

The South Korean-born Singapore international is the club’s third signing, as the Sailors had announced the arrival of two foreign players earlier in the off-season.

The first to arrive at the club is Croatian defender Toni Datkovic, who used to play in the Spanish La Liga second division.

Signalling their intent to challenge for the Singapore Premier League title and qualify for the knockout stages of the newly-formed Asian Football Confederation Champions League 2 (ACL2), the Sailors unveiled Bart Ramselaar as the club’s second foreign signing.

The former Dutch Eredivisie league midfielder joined for an undisclosed fee from FC Utrecht.

Song has been a regular at the Bishan Stadium since he arrived in Singapore with the Sailors’ predecessor club, Home United.

The nifty midfielder rejoined the Sailors and penned a two-year deal after stints in Thailand and Indonesia with Nongbua Pitchaya and Persebaya Surabaya, respectively.

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Sealing a move back to familiar surroundings, an older and much wiser Song – who has scored four goals in 22 appearances for the Lions after obtaining Singaporean citizenship in August 2021 – is raring to go as he looks to bring further success to the Sailors in his second spell with the club. 

“I’ve learnt so much from playing in Thailand and Indonesia, and I want to make use of this experience to help the team.

Everyone knows how much I love the club – I’ve mentioned before that I want to come back and play for the Sailors fans again, so here I am,” expressed Song, whose record of 32 goals in 58 appearances puts him second in the Sailors’ all-time scoring charts behind Maxime Lestienne (42).

“There are many familiar faces still around, and also some exciting additions to the team. This club is going in the right direction, and I’m going to give my all to help achieve our vision of becoming one of the best clubs in the region,” added the 30-year-old footballer.

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Photo credit: Lion City Sailors FC

Ramselaar (pic above) comes onboard the Sailors on a contract that runs until the end of the 2025/26 campaign.

He will provide the attacking zest to complement the defensive solidarity brought to the side by Datkovic, the club’s first signing of the off-season.

27-year-old Ramselaar promises to bring a new dimension to the team’s attacking third as he looks to form a dynamic partnership with fellow PSV Eindhoven alumni Maxime Lestienne.

With PSV, Ramselaar rose to prominence as a technically supreme midfield playmaker.

Winning the 2017/18 Eredivisie title with the Dutch giants, he also progressed through the national youth age groups before making three international appearances for the Holland senior side.

Ramselaar returned to Utrecht—the club where he made his professional debut in 2015—and enjoyed his most productive season in the 2021/22 campaign, scoring nine goals.

He made 11 appearances in the ongoing 23/24 Eredivisie season and scored in a 2-0 victory over Go Ahead Eagles in December 2023 before moving to Singapore. 

“Bart is a fantastic addition to the team with his speed and intelligent link-up play in the final third.

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I’m already looking forward to seeing how he can complement the likes of Maxime, Shawal Anuar and Richairo Zivkovic to give us an even better-attacking threat,” said Sailors head coach Aleksandar Rankovic, who worked with Ramselaar in the 2022/23 season when he was still Utrecht’s assistant coach. 

Ramselaar – who brings UEFA Champions League experience from his time with PSV – joins a Sailors’ squad brimming with European pedigree alongside Zivkovic, Lestienne, Datkovic and Rui Pires.

“I’ve played my whole career in Holland, so it was always one of my targets to prove myself in a foreign league one day. I’m really intrigued by this new challenge in Singapore with the Sailors.

I’m here to help the team with my experience and hopefully play some nice football that can get more fans into the stadium. The goal is clear – I want to be a SPL champion here and help the team qualify for the knockout stages of the ACL2,” said Ramselaar.