S. Korean midfielder Lee Kang-in joins RCD Mallorca
South Korean midfielder Lee Kang-in poses with his new uniform for RCD Mallorca after signing a four-year deal with the Spanish club. (RCD Mallorca)
Moving from one Spanish club to another, South Korea international Lee Kang-in has joined RCD Mallorca.
RCD Mallorca announced Monday (local time) that Lee, 20, has agreed to a four-year contract that will keep him on the club's namesake island through 2025.
Lee spent the past 10 years with Valencia CF, all the way from their youth academy to their first team.
The midfielder had been rumored to be on his way out of Valencia for days, if not weeks. Spanish media reported earlier that Valencia had terminated Lee's contract, set to expire in 2022 and had agreed to make him a free agent. The club confirmed the move Sunday, and Lee himself bid adieu to Valencia on social media.
Valencia acquired Brazilian forward Marcos Andre last week, adding another non-European Union (EU) player to the mix that included Lee, Uruguayan striker Maxi Gomez and Paraguayan defender Omar Alderete. La Liga clubs can carry up to five players from countries outside the EU, but only three can be put on matchday squads.
Lee made his first team debut with Valencia at age 17 in October 2018. The precocious playmaker then shot to international stardom during the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 2019. Playing as an 18-year-old, Lee grabbed the underdogs South Korea by their collar and took them to the final. South Korea lost to Ukraine 3-1, but the runner-up finish remains the country's best performance at a FIFA men's competition in all age groups. With two goals and four assists, Lee captured the Golden Ball as the best player of the tournament.
Lee made his senior international debut in September 2019 and has six caps to his credit. He represented South Korea on the under-24 team at the recent Tokyo Olympics.
Lee's development stalled last season, when he mostly came off the bench while scoring just once in 27 appearances. The change of scenery may do wonders for a player who has shown flashes of brilliance but hasn't yet reached his prime.
RCD Mallorca earned promotion back to the top division for this season, after finishing in second place in the second-tier Segunda Division last season.
They have put up two wins and a draw in three matches so far this season to rank sixth among 20 clubs. (Yonhap)