July 10, 2023
SEOUL – South Korean midfielder Lee Kang-in finalized a deal to play for Paris Saint-Germain through 2028, according to the French team’s website on Sunday, while his compatriot Kim Min-jae is reportedly inching to closing a deal with Bayern Munich.
The 22-year-old Lee will become the first South Korean to officially don the PSG uniform in the coming season, after playing two seasons for Mallorca in the Spanish League.
“It’s incredible to be able to join Paris Saint-Germain, it’s one of the biggest clubs in the world, with some of the greatest players in the world,” said Lee Kang-in through the comment cited in the website. “I can’t wait to start this new adventure.”
His transfer fee was reported to be 22 million euros ($24.1 million).
Lee’s new team boasts a packed roster, even after the departure of Argentinian superstar Lionel Messi last season. He is slated to join Brazil’s Neymar and France’s own Kylian Mbappe, although reports have surfaced that Mbappe is close to parting ways with Paris.
Lee’s tenure with PSG will mark the first time for Lee to embark on a pro club career outside of Spain. After joining Valencia’s academy in 2011 at the age of 10, he kicked off his senior career with Valencia B in 2017. He made his first team debut in 2018, and transferred to Mallorca in 2021, where he kicked off a two-year stint with the team.
On the international stage, Lee donned the national colors in 14 matches and played all four of South Korea’s games during the FIFA 2022 World Cup in Qatar. He notched two assists in South Korea’s 3-2 loss to Ghana in a group H qualifier match in Qatar.
His heroics in the international stage earned him popularity with the South Korean public, who had affections for Lee even before he suited up for the national team or any soccer club. In 2007, then 6-year-old was featured prominently on a local reality soccer show where he showcased his exceptional skills.
While Lee has inked a deal with Paris, the Kim Min-jae transfer saga continues, as reports indicate the Napoli center back is close to landing in Germany. Italian and German news media on Sunday reported that Bayern Munich is ready to activate — or has already activated — the 26-year-old’s release clause at Napoli.
The Bavarians are expected to pay 50 million euros for Kim’s transfer, and to tie him down with a five-year contract. The South Korean is expected to replace defender Lucas Hernandez, who is set to transfer to PSG.
Kim is coming off a breakout season, winning the Serie A Player of the Month award in September 2022 and having been named Serie A’s best defender of the season. He was a crucial part of Napoli winning the league, the third title in its history and first since the team won it all in 1989-90 season.
In an added bonus for Kim’s new team, the defender just cleared his mandatory military duties last week by completing three weeks of basic military training at an Army training center in South Chungcheong Province. As a gold medalist in the Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games in 2018, he has able to substitute his mandated time in the barracks with services as a “sports officer” working in the field of one’s expertise for 34 months. Essentially, he had to hold a soccer-related job for that time period and complete 544 hours of volunteer service.
Lee has yet to fulfill his military obligation or earn an exemption like Kim’s, which can be won with an Olympic medal or a gold medal at an Asian Games.