Regarding Korean winger Lee Kang-in, who returned after a month, coach Luis Enrique of his team, France’s powerhouse Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), praised him as “a very interesting player,” but drew the line at his position as a midfielder. He has announced that he will use a different method of use than he used as a wing striker at Mallorca and Klinsmann.
It is true that Coach Enrique has mentioned Lee Kang-in quite a bit, so expectations are high whether his status within the team will change.
PSG will play a home game against Strasbourg in the 9th round of the French Ligue 1 in the 2023/24 season at midnight on the 22nd at their home stadium, the Parte des Princes (Princes Park) stadium in Paris, France. PSG has built a top-tier system in Ligue 1, but this season is somewhat different. This is because PSG is in third place with 4 wins, 3 draws, and 1 loss (15 points), behind AS Monaco (17 points) and Nice (16 points).
As Strasbourg is only in 12th place with 10 points, the reality is that they need to win this home game to lay the foundation for taking the lead.
I’m glad to see Lee Kang-in’s return. Lee Kang-in, who left his former team, Real Mallorca in Spain’s La Liga, in early July and signed a five-year contract with PSG until 2028, has had difficulty securing playing time for his team due to two injuries since then.
Lee Kang-in, who injured his hamstring (back of the thigh muscle) in the first pre-season game against Le Havre and has been out for three games, visited Korea with PSG players and appeared as a second half substitute in the last pre-season game against Jeonbuk Hyundai held at Busan Asiad Main Stadium in early August. It seemed like he would regain his normal condition after being deployed, but after the Ligue 1 2nd round match against Toulouse on August 20, he began rehabilitation again due to leg pain.
He also missed the national team’s two-game series in Europe in September led by Jurgen Klinsmann. Fortunately, his rehabilitation went well, and on September 20th, a month later, he was substituted in the 35th minute of the second half of the home game against Borussia Dortmund (Germany) in the UEFA Champions League. went into
Afterwards, Lee Kang-in played for a long time wearing the Taegeuk symbol. Immediately after the Dortmund match, he boarded a plane and arrived in Hangzhou, China via Incheon Airport, joining the U-24 national team led by coach Hwang Sun-hong and contributing to the Hangzhou Asian Games gold medal.
Hwang Seon-hong did not perform as well as his ace, but he dispersed the opponent’s defense and occasionally displayed flashy dribbles, winning a gold medal and receiving a special exemption from military service, which was a variable in his soccer life.
His national team performance did not end here. As soon as he returned home from the Asian Games, he boarded the Klinsmann and played in two consecutive A matches in October, including against Tunisia on the 13th and against Vietnam on the 17th. Lee Kang-in started as a starter, and in the match against Tunisia, he exploded with not only his debut goal in the A match but also his second goal, giving him his first home win since taking office in Klinsmann. He then scored 1 goal and 1 assist in the game against Vietnam, becoming a major contributor to the 6-0 victory.
Meanwhile, coach Enrique was very welcoming of Lee Kang-in, who returned to PSG a month after playing against Dortmund, and praised him at the press conference.
Coach Enrique said on the 21st, “Ever since he joined us, Lee Kang-in has already proven his level, including with the national team. For us and under our system, the priority is for him to grow into a midfielder. But as a winger. “He can play as a false number 9 or a shadow striker,” he said.
Coach Enrique continued by giving another favorable review, saying, “Lee Kang-in is a very interesting player because he has a talent for finishing (goals) and making the final pass.”
Under coach Enrique’s regime, Lee Kang-in is classified as a player who still needs to compete more. This is because PSG let go two South American superstars, Lionel Messi and Neymar, this summer, but prevented a loss of strength by recruiting French national team players such as Langdal Colo Muani and Ousmane Dembele.
n addition, as Coach Enrique believes Lee Kang-in’s position is wide, star Kylian Mbappe, Spain’s national team Marco Asensio, France’s 16-year-old star Warren Zaire Emery, and Portugal’s national team Vicinha are also considered competitors.
In fact, even in official games this season when Lee Kang-in played for PSG, his playing time was restricted. Lee Kang-in, who started in the Ligue 1 opening match against Lorient on August 13 and was substituted in the 35th minute of the second half, left the field in the 5th minute of the second half in the second round match against Toulouse. Lee Kang-in received a warning in the match against Toulouse, and coach Enrique seemed to have been waiting for Lee Kang-in to play 50 minutes and included star Kylian Mbappe, who had returned to the training ground after a disagreement with the team.
Klinsmann also previously shed light on Lee Kang-in’s cold reality. At a conference held prior to the national team call-up on the 9th, he said, “We will actively utilize Lee Kang-in (in international matches),” and added, “I recently spoke with coach Enrique, and I want to look at Lee Kang-in’s transfer to PSG from two perspectives. It is a happy thing from a fan’s perspective. “I’m happy that Lee Kang-in went to a big European club, but it’s hard to see Lee Kang-in as a starter in every game. He has to fight for a starting spot, and this is just the beginning of his future career,” he said objectively.
Klinsmann continued, “PSG is a different team. They will be thirsty for playing time. I want to help and relieve them in the national team. I want to help them prove their skills and get a good starting point. I want to help them show up on the pitch. “I have a big heart. I want to actively utilize him because he is an important player. I want to give him as much playing time as possible,” he said. Klinsmann used Lee Kang-in as a starter in both games, and Lee Kang-in proved his worth by scoring three goals.
PSG’s reality also became a reason for Lee Kang-in’s focus on moderation. PSG has become dependent on Mbappe’s one-man show as Dembele and others are underperforming. This led to a nightmare in which Mbappe lost 1-4 in the second leg of the UEFA Champions League against Newcastle on the 5th, when he was underperforming.
In addition to Coach Enrique’s high praise, PSG warmly welcomed Lee Kang-in’s return, making Korean fans happy.
PSG made an announcement on its website on the 20th, announcing the return of 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games gold medalist Lee Kang-in, saying, ‘Medalist Lee Kang-in returns with a gold medal.’
After arriving at PSG after a long flight, Lee Kang-in attracted attention by showing the team his Asian Games gold medal.
PSG introduced, along with a photo of Lee Kang-in wearing a uniform and holding a gold medal, “Lee Kang-in, who won the Asian Games, has returned to PSG.” Also, Lee Kang-in happily entered PSG life again with the so-called ‘Indian Bob’ welcome ceremony where his teammates patted him on the back at the training ground.
Lee Kang-in is entering the endless competition again, but it seems that his opportunities to compete will not be completely limited. This is because PSG is running Ligue 1 and the Champions League in parallel, and also has to play the French Cup (FA Cup).
In particular, PSG is in the group of death along with Dortmund, Newcastle, and AC Milan (Italy) in the Champions League, so it is not easy to play a single game. In fact, Dortmund was defeated 2-0 at home, but it was not easy to advance to the round of 16, as it suffered a crushing defeat by 3 goals in the match against Newcastle held in enemy territory.
After playing against Strasbourg on the 22nd, Lee Kang-in will invite AC Milan to his home on the 26th for the third round of the Champions League group stage. Afterwards, they will play a Ligue 1 away game against Brestois on the 30th, a Ligue 1 home game against Montpellier on the 4th of next month, and then move on to Italy to play a home game against AC Milan on the 8th.