KFA finalizes deal with PSG to release Lee Kang-in…’Will join after UCL Dortmund game, group stage appearance unknown’

September 15, 2023 | by

The decision has been made.

The Korea Football Association (KFA) announced on Friday, “The KFA has reached a final agreement with Lee Kang-in’s club Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) that he will join the Asian Games squad after the club’s UEFA Champions League (UCL) home match against Dortmund on Nov. 19, 2014, local time. Accordingly, Lee will travel to Hangzhou, China, to join the Asian Games team on the 20th local time in France,” the KFA officially announced.

“After receiving an email from PSG on the 13th to allow Lee to travel to the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games, subject to the rescheduling of the 2023 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup, the KFA held discussions with PSG until late on the 14th, and finally received an official response from PSG on the 14th to allow Lee to join the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games squad on the 20th without any other preconditions.” Lee will now join Hwang Sun-hong as he attempts to win his third consecutive gold medal.

Last season, Lee Kang-in was Mallorca itself. He dominated the Spanish La Liga stage with his breakaway runs, darting dribbles, and sharp link-ups. He shone in partnership with striker Bedat Murki, but his ability to finish on his own has also grown significantly.

His dribbling, in particular, is among the best in all of Europe’s top five leagues. According to soccer statistics site Fú, Lee made 90 successful dribbles last season. This was good enough for fourth place in all five major European leagues, behind “world-class” Vinicius Junior (112), “GOAT” Messi (102), and “French Ligue 1 prospect” Jeremy Dokou (96).

At the end of the season, transfer rumors began to circulate. While a move to Atletico Madrid seemed likely, his next destination was France. After announcing the signings of Milan Skriniar, Marco Asensio, and Manuel Ugarte following the appointment of Enrique, PSG made the move official. PSG, which is aiming for the ‘big one’ (UCL trophy), signed Lee as a hidden card.

Prior to his arrival in Paris, Lee left a final message for the Mallorca fans. “Thank you to the Mallorca team and fans. Two years ago, I arrived in Mallorca with the dream of becoming a better player, and I think we have all grown together with the club. I’m glad that I was able to achieve a common goal with the club and the memories of our victories will always remain with me,” he reflected on his time in Mallorca.

“The players, the team and the fans were able to achieve great results together and I think I became a better player and a better person thanks to the fans who always supported me at the Son Mossi stadium. Playing for Mallorca and representing my country at the World Cup was a dream come true for me and it was only possible because of the support of my teammates, the coaching staff and everyone at the club. I’m going to face new challenges with a good heart because I definitely believe that Mallorca will be stronger, and I’ll never forget all the days I spent here. Go Mallorca!” he said as he bid farewell.

“Ouest France” highlighted Lee Kang-in, who may be unfamiliar to French fans, and wrote: “PSG are set to sign Lee Kang-in. He is not widely known in France. Let’s take a look at five things you need to know about him.”

The first point is ‘flying shot’. “Born in Incheon, South Korea, Lee started playing soccer as a child. He participated in the TV program ‘Fly, Shoot, Doll’. He even did a commercial with Manchester United and Korean icon Park Ji-Sung. When he was only 10 years old, he traveled to Spain and joined the Valencia academy.” He shed light on his childhood.

Next is the ‘Valencia years’. “Lee made his debut in the Spanish La Liga in January 2019 and made his first appearance in the UEFA Europa League (UEL) in the same season. In the 2019-20 season, he also played in the Champions League (UCL), facing Chelsea and Lille. Due to financial difficulties, Valencia decided to sell Lee in the summer of 2021.”

The third category is “Outstanding performance at the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Poland”. “The versatile Lee has been in the spotlight since the beginning of his career. He was a complete success at the U-20 World Cup in Poland. He scored two goals and provided four assists to lead South Korea to the final. Despite losing to Ukraine, Lee was awarded the Golden Ball as the tournament’s best player.”

There was also talk of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. “His debut with the A team came quickly, and as an excellent joker, Lee got his chance against Portugal in the final group game of the Qatar 2022 World Cup. He was very active and contributed to South Korea’s victory. However, he remained on the bench against Brazil in the Round of 16, playing only the last 15 minutes.”

The last one is ‘Marseille transfer rumors’. ‘Ouest France’ said, “In the summer of 2020, Lee Kang-in was linked to PSG rivals Marseille. Marseille, who were in the UCL at the time, were looking to bolster their squad on the cheap and considered loaning Lee. However, the deal fell through. Now, Lee will be wearing a PSG jersey,” he said.

However, it didn’t take long for the youngster to hit the ground running. He was injured in a friendly against Le Havre before the pre-season tour. Enrique deployed Lee in a three-man defense alongside Marco Asensio and Ismael Garvey. He showed the same flashes of brilliance he showed in Mallorca. He consistently troubled the defense down the right flank. He linked up perfectly with his first teammates. Towards the end of the first half, an unexpected blow came. Lee felt pain in his hamstring. There was no need to strain it, so he was taken off.

He traveled with the team to Japan but missed the matches against Al Nasr, Cerezo Osaka, and Inter Milan before returning to action against Jeonbuk Hyundai in South Korea. “I think I was able to play this game because of the fans who showed me great love and support even in the hot weather. Thank you for your support at the airport, hotel, open training, and stadium,” Lee said after the showcase. “I will do my best to show you a good performance this season, and I wish you all the best in the heat,” he concluded.

Upon his return to France, Lee wasted no time in seizing the opportunity. He started at wing-forward against Lorient on the opening day. While his partners Marco Asensio and Gonzalo Hamus were underwhelming, Lee was different. His presence in the key stats alone was immense. 88% passing success rate (59 attempts – 52 successful), 1 key pass, 66% dribbling success rate (3 attempts – 2 successful), 60% long ball success rate (5 attempts – 3 successful), 0.12 expected goals (xG) and 0.55 expected assists (xA). Lee had a successful debut, being named THE PLAYER by the Ligue 1 secretariat.

The second-round match against Toulouse was a bit of a struggle, with Lee playing 51 minutes on the pitch as a left wing-forward and not getting many chances on the ball. His tactical problems contrasted with his performance against Lorient, and he was replaced by Kylian Mbappe without being able to capitalize on his attacking advantages. Key stats include a 79% passing success rate (19 attempts – 15 successful), two key passes, and an xA of 0.29.

However, injury struck again. Last month, PSG announced that “Lee has suffered an injury to his left quadriceps and will receive treatment until the end of the A-match break”. He then missed the games against Reims and Lyon and remained in Paris to focus on his rehabilitation.

There were concerns that Lee could be sidelined until mid-September or later. France’s French Football Weekly wrote: “Lee Kang-in is injured again. He had already suffered one injury this summer. As a result, he will miss both the Reims and Lyon games. His availability for Nice after the international break is also uncertain. For coach Luis Enrique, the loss of Lee would be devastating.”

France’s Get French Football News also reported, “Lee Kang-in is out until the A-match break. He has made a positive start since joining PSG and has started all two league games. While Enrique was struggling, Lee was impressive. However, a quadriceps injury forced him to miss the games against Reims and Lyon, and he could be a doubt for Nice. Enrique will be hoping that he can return as soon as possible.”

It didn’t take long for the good news to arrive. On December 12, PSG shared a special video on social media. After being sidelined with an injury, Lee finally returned to the training center. He worked hard to get back in shape, doing indoor cycling drills and controlling the ball on the grass.

During his rehabilitation, Lee was named in PSG’s roster for the 2023-24 UCL season. This was good news for coach Hwang Sun-hong. At the time of the Asian Games roster announcement, Hwang said, “Lee Kang-in’s will to participate in the Asian Games is very strong. (Lee) has a very strong will and we continue to work together. I’m very positive and looking forward to it. We have a Plan A position and a Plan B position. We need to talk to him and coordinate. He’s very smart, so I think he’s fully aware of that,” he said, adding that he plans to use Lee at the Asian Games. 메이저사이트

However, it was still unclear whether he would be called up. Coach Hwang Sun-hong, who held the final training session before departing for Hangzhou at Paju NFC on Thursday, said, “I haven’t received an official answer on when he will join the team. I’m frustrated about that. We decided to contact him on the 13th to see if his injury is fully recovered, but so far there is no official answer.” A KFA official said, “PSG said they would contact us by the 13th. “They said they would get back to us by the 13th, but there was no mention of the Asian Cup or when they would send him because of his physical condition. There will be an internal discussion after the representative comes to Korea from England. He was contacted before his departure from Newcastle,” the source added. He added that he did not know whether the communication was by phone or email.

The coordination with PSG took place late into the night on the 14th and was eventually finalized. He will join Hwang Sun-hong after the 2023-24 season’s UCL Group F first leg against Dortmund, scheduled for 4 a.m. KST on Oct. 20. He is expected to arrive in Hangzhou at least on the 21st or 22nd.

South Korea, who are in Group E of the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games, will face Kuwait on the 19th and Thailand on the 21st. With Lee arriving in Hangzhou after the Dortmund game, jetlag and conditioning issues could keep him out of the second game against Thailand and the third game against Bahrain on the 24th. Finally, the timing of Lee Kang-in’s arrival has been outlined. Hwang Sun-hong will have to prepare for the group stage without Lee.


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