South Korean soccer’s “next ace” Lee Kang-in (PSG – Paris Saint-Germain) has paved the way for a more stable European career after winning gold at the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games.
The South Korean Under-24 football team, led by Hwang Sun-hong, defeated the Japan U-22 team 2-1 in the men’s football final of the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games at the Huanglong Sports Center Stadium in Hangzhou, China, on Sunday.
Lee Kang-in was part of Hwang Sun-hong’s team that won the prized gold medal.
He represented his country at the international level and gave his fans a thrilling victory.
He also received a sweet military service benefit.
Military service could have been a shackle for Lee Kang-in, who was already building a career in Europe, but at the tender age of 22, he overcame it.
South Korea’s current soccer ace Son Heung-min (Tottenham) didn’t receive his military service at the 2018 Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games until he was 26.
After making a name for himself on the world stage by leading South Korea to a runner-up finish at the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup and winning the Golden Ball, which is awarded to the best player of the tournament, Lee was recognized as one of Europe’s top attacking midfielders in the 2022-2023 season, scoring six goals and providing six assists in 36 games in Spain’s La Liga.
Then, in July, he made a surprise move to join French powerhouse Paris Saint-Germain (PSG).
In this situation, he was exempted from military service. If he continues to perform well, he will definitely be able to make a “long run” in Europe.
It’s good news for PSG that Lee has cleared his military service.
PSG is in transition. They parted ways with Lionel Messi (Inter Miami) at the end of last season, and Neymar (Al-Hilal) left for Saudi Arabia.
Kylian Mbappe, who has been at odds with the club since the beginning of the season, is also rumored to be leaving at the end of the season.
In this situation, PSG may have been thinking ‘big picture’ when they signed Lee. It’s good to see Lee’s military service resolved.
Lee’s quest for gold hasn’t been easy.
On August 22, he injured his left quadriceps and there were concerns that he might not be able to compete at all.
However, after about a month of rest, he returned to action in the UEFA Champions League (UCL).
He then traveled to Hangzhou on the 21st of last month to join Huang Sunhong.
In fact, Lee’s performance with the Huangshan Honghao has been underwhelming.
After watching the second group game against Thailand (4-0) from the stands, Lee made his first start in the third game against Bahrain (3-0), playing only 36 minutes.
In the round of 16 against Kyrgyzstan (5-1), he started and played the final 15 minutes, and in the quarterfinals against China (2-0), he started on the bench and came on as a substitute midway through the second half.
In the semifinals against Uzbekistan (2-1 win), he started and played the final 14 minutes.
In the final against South Korea (2-1 win), he played 72 minutes.
While Lee showed some flashes of brilliance with his passing and ability to break up play, he generally struggled to integrate into the Hwangsun team throughout the tournament.
Hwangsun’s offense worked much better with Ko Young-jun (Pohang) on the field than with Lee Kang-in.
Lee finished with zero attacking points in a tournament where South Korea exploded for a whopping 27 goals.
To be fair, it’s hard to see Lee having much of a stake in the gold medal.
The 22-year-old still has a lot of time left to give to Korean soccer. 무료슬롯게임