Lee Kang-in finally collapses…PSG, Klinsmann, and AG ‘on high alert’ for three national teams

Lee Kang-in has been ruled out 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 Wednesday (July 22), “Lee Kang-in suffered an injury to his left quadriceps muscle. He will receive treatment until the end of the A-match period,” and will be out of action for the foreseeable future.

Lee, who joined PSG in July to much fanfare, has been sidelined for most of the club’s Asian tour since then due to a right hamstring injury sustained in the first preseason game against Le Havre, and now the quadriceps injury will once again keep him out of action.

After his first injury, PSG fans were concerned that Lee might continue to get injured. A 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 his anterior left thigh in November 2019 that lasted about 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 being injured for more than three years, when he arrived at PSG and complained of thigh pain, his teammates were worried, saying, “We hope he doesn’t get the PSG curse”. However, after returning from his last injury, Lee re-injured himself in a preseason 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, earning the trust of 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 called upon to take free kicks and corners, and he was also active on the flanks and in the center of the pitch.

Lee, who often showed off his long dribbling runs, also had a few chances to help the team score with crosses, but he was unlucky. In the 35th minute, Lee saw Hamus in front of the goal and sent him a left-footed cross that was headed behind Hamus, but he couldn’t get a shot off. At this point, Hammus lifted his back foot to try and get a foot on Lee’s cross, but it wasn’t enough and he was unable to capitalize on the offense.

On the day, Lee had a successful PSG debut, completing 88% of his passes (52/59), creating one chance, taking three shots, and winning 75% of his dribbles (3/4).

After the game, French media praised the Korean gem, saying, “The debutant at the Parc des Princes played to his strengths,” and “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 recognized Lee as THE PLAYER for his performance against PSG-Lorient, saying, “Despite having to fill the huge shoes left by Messi, Lee especially enjoyed filling the space once occupied by the Argentine great.” Lee’s performance was praised.

In the second match, against Toulouse, Lee started on the left wing and was compared to Kylian Mbappe in the same position.

After playing 82 minutes against Lorient, Lee played a relatively short 51 minutes against Toulouse before leaving the field with a red card. He did show flashes of brilliance in attack, completing 79% 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 preseason and the regular season, so he looked awkward in position and movement at times, and his passing timing and movement with Fabian Luis, his partner on the left, sometimes mismatched and disrupted the flow of the attack.

French outlet Foot Mercato gave Lee a 5.5 rating after the game, the lowest of the starting 11. “He was very active. He never lost possession in the first half and was able to add pace on the counterattack. His dribbling skills helped him break down the Toulouse defense. He is an integral part of PSG’s ball possession strategy. He left the field after making a decisive and effective play early in the game. Mbappe was on fire on the left flank as soon as he came on and gave PSG the lead,” he said, pointing out that despite Lee Kang-in’s good performance, he fell short compared to Mbappe.

The injury is particularly unfortunate as Lee was coming off a crucial period of the season where his early season form could have given him a leg up in the race for a starting spot, and Luis Enrique was trying to find a role for Lee in a variety of positions.

If it weren’t for the injury, Lee would have been a regular in the PSG midfield starting against RC Reims. French media outlets were already speculating about Lee’s potential to play in the center of the park.

“PSG has decided not to look for more midfielders internally,” said French media 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, expressing his excitement for Lee to start 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 fail to strengthen their midfield in the final days of the transfer window, he could end up playing in midfield this season.” The midfield role is certainly possible.

PSG are in a tricky situation, as they hadn’t made a move to add to their midfield until the last minute of the transfer window, seeing Lee as the solution to their midfield problems, and now, with Lee’s injury, they have to work with what they have for the time being.

PSG currently have one undisputed starter in the center of the field, so if Lee performs well in midfield over the next few games, the club plans 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 the midfield,” said French outlet CulturePSG, explaining that PSG will not make any additional signings because of Lee’s presence, and that Lee could be an option for PSG’s midfield this season.

Ultimately, if Lee fails to improve his form after the A-League campaign, PSG’s decision to forgo midfield reinforcements this summer could come back to haunt them.

Meanwhile, the senior national team, 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 March 8 in Klinsmann’s first away A match since taking over, before facing Saudi Arabia five days later in Newcastle, also in England.

Lee has started 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 been a force to be reckoned with in every single A-League match, with his breakaway ability and kicking ability making his presence a tactic in itself.

In a recent interview, Klinsmann said that he could not afford to lose Lee to the Asian Games team’s training camp during the A-Match, and he was determined to keep him on 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.

Furthermore, 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 criticized 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 the absence of key player Lee Kang-in.

An additional issue is Hwang Sun-hong and the Asian Games squad. Lee is expected to return after the A-match period in September, according to PSG. The 2023 Asian Games in Hangzhou will kick off on September 23 and will take place after the A-match period, so Lee’s absence isn’t an immediate problem.

However, coach Hwang Sun-hong must be feeling uneasy about the situation. There are concerns about whether Lee will be able to continue playing as soon as he returns from injury, and the possibility that his rehabilitation will 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 the team is working on a plan that includes Lee Kang-in’s performance. 스포츠토토

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, the club, Klinsmann and the Asian Games team, there will be a lot of interest in the timing and status of Lee’s return from injury.

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