Lee Kang-in has been ruled out of action for the foreseeable future with a quadriceps injury. It’s an unfortunate injury at a time when he needs to push for a starting spot. It’s also an emergency for the senior national team and Hwang Sun-hong.
Paris Saint-Germain announced on the club’s website on the 22nd that 메이저사이트“Lee Kang-in has suffered an injury to his left quadriceps muscle. He will receive treatment until the end of the A-match period,” the club announced on its website, ruling him out for the foreseeable future.
Lee, who joined PSG in July to much fanfare, has been sidelined for the majority of the club’s Asian tour since then due to a right hamstring injury sustained in the first pre-season game against Le Havre, and this quadriceps injury will once again keep him out of action.
There were fears among PSG fans that Lee could continue to pick up injuries after his first setback. One PSG fan account, ‘PSG Community’, even cited Lee’s injury history as an example, and expressed concern that he might have fallen victim to the ‘PSG injury curse’ after the Le Havre game.
“If you look at his injury history, he has only missed eight games due to injury so far,” they explained, “and notably, he hasn’t missed a single game since January 2020 due to injury.”
According to their data, Lee missed one game in August 2019 due to a hamstring muscle problem in his thigh, followed by an injury to the anterior aspect of his left thigh in November 2019 that lasted around seven weeks, during which he missed seven games.
This was Lee’s first and last long-term injury. Since then, Lee has not missed any matches due to injury, except for a two-match absence in December 2020 when he contracted the COVID-19 pandemic.
Recently, after not having been injured for more than three years, when he arrived at PSG with thigh pain, they were worried, saying, “We don’t want him to get the PSG curse.” However, after returning from his last injury, Lee was injured again in a pre-season match against Jeonbuk Hyundai and two regular season league games, making PSG fans even more anxious.
The injury also put a red flag on Lee’s competition for a starting spot at PSG. Initially, Lee had started both of PSG’s league games since the start of the 2023/24 season and had been trusted by Luis Enrique.
In the league opener against Lorient, he started on the right wing. With one of the sharpest kicks in the team, he was often used as a kicker from free kicks and corners, while also showing a lot of movement between the flanks and the centre.
Lee, who often made long dribbling runs alongside his performances, also had chances to help create goals with crosses, but he was unlucky. In the 35th minute, Lee saw Hamus in front of the goal, but his left-footed cross was directed behind Hamus, and he was unable to get a shot away. Hamus lifted his back foot to try and get his foot on the ball, but it wasn’t enough, and he was unable to get a shot on target.
On the day, Lee had a successful debut for PSG, completing 88 per cent of his passes (52/59), creating one chance, taking three shots and winning 75 per cent of his dribbles (3/4).
“The Korean gem played to his strengths on his debut at the Parc des Princes,” said French media outlets after the game, “Very active on both sides of the attack, Lee’s acceleration and ability to take risks made him the catalyst of PSG’s opening game.”
Ligue 1 also named Lee “THE PLAYER” for his performance against PSG-Lorient, saying, “Despite having to fill the huge shoes left by Messi, Lee in particular enjoyed filling the space once occupied by the Argentine great.” Lee’s performance was praised by the media.
In the second game, against Toulouse, Lee started on the left wing and was compared to Kylian Mbappe in the same position.
After playing the full 82 minutes against Lorient, Lee left the field against Toulouse after a relatively short 51 minutes with a red card. He did show flashes of brilliance in attack, completing 79 per cent of his passes (15/19), creating two chances, one shot on target and winning two battles for the ball.
It was his first appearance on the left wing since joining PSG in both pre-season and the regular season, and he looked awkward in position and movement at times, disrupting the flow of the attack as he and his left-back partner Fabian Luis sometimes mismatched in terms of passing timing and movement.
French outlet Foot Mercato gave Lee a 5.5 rating after the game, the lowest of the starting 11. They said of Lee: “He was very active. He never lost possession in the first half and was able to add pace on the counter-attack. His dribbling skills helped to break down the Toulouse defence. He is an integral part of PSG’s ball possession strategy. He left the field after a decisive and effective play early in the game. Mbappe came on and immediately set the left flank on fire and gave PSG the lead,” he said, noting that despite Lee’s good performance, he was relatively inadequate compared to Mbappe.
The injury is particularly unfortunate as he was coming into a crucial period of the season where his early season form could have given him an edge in the race for a starting spot, and Luis Enrique was trying to find a role for him by playing him in a number of different positions.
If it wasn’t for the injury, Lee would have been a regular in PSG’s midfield from the start against RC Reims. French media outlets were already speculating about Lee’s future in the centre of the park and how he could perform.
“PSG have decided not to look for another midfielder internally,” said French outlet Le Parisien, adding that “even if they change their minds, it won’t take PSG a few days to find a playmaker” and that they will look within their current squad.
“He is confident in Enrique’s system and Enrique is very complimentary of him. It’s up to Enrique to develop him.” “He needs to play as a left midfielder. In Spain, he was statistically the most successful in this role,” he said, adding that he was looking forward to seeing Lee in midfield.
“He could sacrifice himself for PSG,” said French outlet Foot01, “He played on the right wing against Lorient last time out, and if PSG don’t strengthen their midfield in the final days of the transfer window, he could end up playing in midfield this season.” The midfield move is certainly possible.
PSG are also in a tricky position, having seen Lee as a solution in midfield and not rushing to add to their midfield until the last minute of the transfer window, but Lee’s injury has left them with a midfield problem that they need to solve with their existing resources for the time being.
PSG currently have one undisputed starter in the centre of midfield, so if Lee performs well in midfield over the next few games, they will be looking to move him into the starting midfield.
“PSG prefers an internal solution that eventually leads to Lee, they will decide not to make any signings in midfield,” said French outlet CulturePSG, explaining that PSG will not make any additional signings because of Lee’s presence, suggesting that Lee could be an alternative for PSG’s midfield this season.
Ultimately, PSG’s decision to forgo midfield reinforcements this summer could come back to bite them in the arse if Lee fails to improve his form after the A-match period.
Meanwhile, the senior squad, led by Jürgen Klinsmann, will also be without a player until the A-Match in September.
Lee is set to miss both South Korea’s matches against Wales and Saudi Arabia early next month as he continues his injury rehabilitation. The national team will face Wales in Cardiff City, England, on the 8th of next month in Klinsmann’s first away A match since taking over, before facing Saudi Arabia five days later in Newcastle, a medium-sized city in England, on the 13th.
Lee has featured in all four of the national team’s matches since Klinsmann’s appointment. He has started all but the first, against Colombia. Lee’s presence in Klinsmann’s team has been pivotal, as he has put in some tremendous performances in each of the A-League matches, where his presence has become a tactic in itself, with his ability to break up play and his kicking ability.
In a recent press conference, Klinsmann said that he could not afford to lose Lee to the Asian Games training camp during the A-Match, and was determined to keep him in his team.
“I don’t know how many players who join the A team will go to the Asian Games, but I will try to play my best game in the A team and improve my performance so that I can join the Asian Games team. I hope I can get good energy from the A team and pass it on to the Asian Games team,” he said.
Klinsmann, who had expressed his desire to have Lee join the squad, will have to play without him during the A-Match in September. Their opponents, 35th-ranked Wales and 54th-ranked Saudi Arabia, may be lower in the FIFA rankings than South Korea, but they have the potential to outperform them and present no less of a challenge.
Moreover, Klinsmann is desperate for a first win in September’s A matches. After four A matches with two draws and two losses, the team has been criticised and if they go into the September A match without a win, the fans will be even more critical. It will also be interesting to see how Klinsmann fills the void left by Lee Kang-in, a key player.
An added complication is Hwang Sun-hong and his Asian Games squad. Lee is expected to return after the A-League in September, according to PSG. The Hangzhou 2023 Asian Games kick off on 23 September and will take place after the A-match, so Lee’s absence is not an immediate problem.
However, coach Hwang Sun-hong must be feeling uneasy about the situation. There are concerns over whether Lee will be able to continue playing as soon as he returns from injury and the possibility that his rehabilitation could take longer than expected.
When Hwang announced the final roster for the Asian Games, he said, “Lee Kang-in has a very strong will to participate in the Asian Games. His determination is strong, and we have high expectations for him. We are thinking positively,” he said.
“We have a main position and a Plan B position,” he said, adding, “He’s a smart player, so I’m sure he’s fully aware of it, and I think he’ll do a good job as a teammate.” He also revealed that he has a plan that includes Lee Kang-in’s performance.
Ultimately, if Lee struggles to rehabilitate his injury and misses the Asian Games, it would be a major setback for Hwang’s plans.
With PSG’s announcement of Lee’s injury and the concerns surrounding the player, his club, Klinsmann and the Asian Games team, there will be a lot of interest in the timing and future of Lee’s return from injury.