The “golden boy” Lee Kang-in, 22, has collapsed. It’s a worry for his club, Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), the South Korean national soccer team, and the Asian Games.
On September 22 (KST), PSG announced on their website, “Lee Kang-in has suffered a left quadriceps injury. He will remain on the sidelines until the end of the A-Match in September.”
The South Korean national team will play two A-match friendlies against Wales at Cardiff Stadium in Wales on Sept. 8 and Saudi Arabia at St. James’ Park in Newcastle, England, on Sept. 13. Recently, national team head coach Jürgen Klinsmann said in a video interview with local media that he would select Lee, but the injury will prevent him from joining the squad.
The 2023 Asian Games in Hangzhou in September are also a concern. Hwang Sun-hong, the head coach of the Asian Games team, was worried that the players would not have a chance to play together. In addition, Lee Kang-in’s injury made it difficult for him to join the team at full strength. Hwang’s U-24 team will kick off their Asian Games group stage on Sept. 19 against Kuwait. It’s only about a week away from the A-match schedule.
The Asian Games is an important event for Lee’s career and the future of Korean soccer. A gold medal would allow him to receive military service benefits. South Korea will be looking to win their third consecutive title after winning in Incheon 2014 and Jakarta-Palembang 2018. At the 2018 tournament, “captain” Son Heung-min (Tottenham) and “monster” Kim Min-jae (Napoli) received military service benefits.
“I spoke with PSG,” Klinsmann said in a video interview. I heard that they cleverly put a clause in his contract that requires the club to respond if he is called up for the Asian Games. There shouldn’t be a problem (for him to play in the Asian Games). But we need to use him for the September A matches, so he will be called up to the A team and then join the Asian Games. If he plays in the September A matches against Wales and Saudi Arabia, he can play at a high level for the A team and then go to the Asian Games, he can be more effective. And for Lee Kang-in, the end goal is to go to China and do something big (win gold).” But Lee’s injury raised concerns.
His club, PSG, will also be without him for the foreseeable future. He started both of PSG’s league games and proved to be a key member of the squad. In the league opener against Lorient on Sept. 13, he started on the right flank. Despite not registering an offensive point, he had three shots on goal, an 88% passing success rate, and a 67% dribbling success rate. At the time, Lee was also named “The Player” by the Ligue 1 secretariat. “Lionel Messi’s (Inter Miami) absence was still a big one, but Lee Kang-in did a great job in his place,” Ligue 1 said. 메이저놀이터
In the second match against Toulouse, Lee started on the left flank. He was substituted in the sixth minute of the second half, a bit prematurely. It’s not known if he was injured at the time. However, after the game, PSG announced the injury.
Earlier, PSG Talk, a website that focuses on PSG news, wrote: “When the transfer window closes this summer, Lee could play an important role in Luis Enrique’s PSG system. If PSG don’t bring in a creative midfielder, the position could fall to Lee.” PSG’s midfield options are limited. Leandro Paredes and Henatou Sanchez have left for AS Roma (Italy). Marco Verratti is also rumored to be on his way out. Enrique was planning to fill this void with Lee Kang-in, but now he has to come up with a different plan.
In the meantime, Lee has been on a roll. He was an ace for his former club Mallorca (Spain) last season, focusing on every game and juggling his national team commitments with the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. In the summer transfer window, he was linked with a move to PSG. There were bad signs. Lee suffered a hamstring injury in a friendly against Le Havre (France) on March 22. Playing as a right-back, Lee drew attention for his lively play in the center and on the flanks with a number of neat passes. But in the 43rd minute, the injury came unexpectedly, as he grabbed his right thigh while running in a counterattack. It turned out to be a pulled muscle, and he missed the rest of the preseason to focus on his recovery. He played a normal league schedule, but the problem returned.
PSG Talk broke the news of Lee’s injury, saying, “With Lionel Messi (Inter Miami) and Neymar (Alhilal) gone, PSG need a creative player. The transfer market is open for a few more days, so PSG can focus on finding a midfielder with these qualities.”