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New PSG midfielder Lee Kang-in set to play before home fans in preseason actionBy Yonhap
Published : Aug. 1, 2023 - 11:21
South Korean midfielder Lee Kang-in is set to put on a show in front of home fans for his new French club this week.
Lee and the reigning French league champions Paris Saint-Germain will take on nine-time K League 1 champions Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors at 5 p.m. Thursday at Busan Asiad Main Stadium in the southeastern city of Busan.
Lee's most recent match in his home country took place at the same venue on June 16, when the 22-year-old competed for South Korea against Peru in a friendly match.
He was still a member of the Spanish club RCD Mallorca then. Then on July 9, PSG announced their signing of the skilled midfielder. The very next day, the French club said they would visit Lee's homeland for a preseason match early August, after wrapping up their tour of Japan.
Lee, who won the Golden Ball as the best player of the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup at age 18, has been one of South Korea's most beloved football players. Whenever he comes to play for the national team on home soil, the volume of cheers for Lee -- either when he's on the field or when he's on the bench but shown on the stadium scoreboard -- is only surpassed by that for captain Son Heung-min. Lee's move could make PSG immensely popular in this country.
The club already had enough star power to attract football aficionados here, featuring the likes of Brazilian superstar Neymar and French World Cup hero Kylian Mbappe.
Mbappe, however, didn't make the trip to Asia amid contract dispute. Neymar is with the club, though he didn't play against Cerezo Osaka in Japan on Friday as he's still recovering from an ankle injury.
Lee, too, missed that Friday tilt with a hamstring injury sustained in a preseason contest on July 22, but he was back training by Sunday. He may sit out PSG's final match in Japan, against Inter Milan, on Tuesday night so that he will be fit to play on home soil on Thursday.
Jeonbuk have been the face of the K-League for the past several years. They have won a league-record nine championships in the top division, including an unprecedented five in a row from 2017 to 2021.
They had a shaky start to this season, costing head coach Kim Sang-sik his job in May, but under new boss Dan Petrescu, Jeonbuk have climbed to fourth place.
They have lost striker Cho Gue-sung to the Danish club FC Midtjylland in July but still feature exciting homegrown talent in Moon Seon-min and Song Min-kyu. (Yonhap)
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