Lee Kangin to Real Madrid? + Lee Seungwoo’s Progress

There hasn’t been too much going on in the world of Korean football but there have been some interesting storylines going on as of late. First is Lee Kangin’s transfer saga – he has been the subject of intense interest from Real in the recent couple of weeks; the second is the progress of Lee Seungwoo, who has been a little slow in coming back from the three year transfer ban; the third is the progress of Kwon Changhoon, who is actually fending for himself very well in France and may or may not be getting starting nods in the coming weeks.

Let’s talk about Lee Kangin. Born in 2001, this youngster shot to stardom in Korea as a wonderkid before he was even 10 years old, earning himself a move to the Valencian academy back in 2011.

There, he became one of their most promising players. Sometime around the new year was reported that Man City wanted to poach Nabil Touaizi and Lee Kangin as soon as they turned 16 (when youth players become eligible for transfer). Man City successfully signed Nabil in January, but they gave up on LKI because he was ineligible for a transfer to England. His nonEU visa prevented him from going outside of Spain until he turns 18.

But Real Madrid was in prime position to seek LKI’s signature when he turned 16 this past Feburary. The transfer saga actually generated a lot of interest in Spain and was “trending” on Twitter in Spain. The interest from Real made a lot of sense. LKI had humiliated Real Madrid Castilla on a number of occasions in the past. He was not only the star of Valencia but also the star of the Valencia regional team (the various regions in Spain, or in Castilla y Leon at least, host tournaments against each other by picking a “selection” from the teams in each region). Real were willing to pay LKI a lot of money and according to news-sites-of-questionable-credibility, did all they can to persuade the kid’s parents to join Madrid. If these questionable sites are to be believed, Real was incredibly confident of signing LKI.

But let’s think about it. Why would Lee Kangin go to Madrid? They failed to incorporate the much-hyped Martin Odegaard into their team. OK so he was only 15 when he came and was fast tracked a little too hard, but when’s the last time a Castilla product succeeded with the first team? (Jese and Morata don’t really count). Even La Masia isn’t doing too well with youth talents these days with such a stacked first team. Valencia on the other hand? There are plenty of opportunities to shine with much less competition.

Here are some points from Bigsoccer Korea’s xavilo (a poster from Valencia, Spain with insider connections who updates us with Lee Kangin news regularly [he posts HL vids of LKI scoring FKs and wrecking defenders quite frequently]):

About his contract situation a couple of journalist released some information this morning, basically:
– Yesterday he turned 16 years old, so now no team can “steal” him for free.
– In Kangin’s case, at this moment, any club can sign him paying only the formation rights.
– When a player turns 16, clubs can sign them a professional contract with a buyout clause etc..But in Kangin’s case(and every player who is about to sign his 1st professional contract), he, his agent and his parents or legal guardian need to sign the P License, which is the key point to have a buyout clause etc..
– If Kangin doesn’t sing the P License, Valencia only can benefit with formation rights.
– Valencia and Kangin agents/family are negotiating right now the P License.
– Valencia says that Kangin is an important asset to the club and a player to build a squad around him.
– Kangin’s agents and parents want a good sporting project (my translation: next year they want him to play at Juvenil A, which I approve btw)
– His contract ends in June 2018.
– Since last week he is a Juvenil B player. (I’m not sure about this, I will ask the journalist if this means that he is going to play for Juvenil B for the rest of the season) *this has been confirmed*

In fact, all of these have been confirmed – on Tuesday 2/28 LKI signed a contract extension with Valencia and was upgraded from Cadete A to Juvenil B. Next season he will play with Juvenil A. And his contract will run until June 2019.

A truly wise move from our most promising youth talent.

 

Lee Kangin was able to play nonstop football from 2011 to now. He was very fortunate to not have been targeted by the FIFA ban. Lee Seungwoo, however, seems to have stagnated ever so slightly in his development:

  • There were rumors back in December that LSW would go out on loan because he was not living up to his expectations. He ended up staying at Barcelona, and plays weekly matches, but was benched for many of the UEFA Youth League games. He scores goals here and there, but we don’t see those solo wonder-goals anymore. More often than not, he loses the ball while trying to dribble. Before that transfer ban his dribble success rate was most certainly well over 50%; now it’s definitely under that.
  • At 18 years old he’s still with Juvenil A while other kids his age are making Champions League debuts (cough Monaco’s Mbappe)
  • He still looks like a boy among men – this guy, even still, gets pushed off the ball a little too easily. Wasn’t his physical game something he has been specifically working on since 2013? I will say though, his shot power has improved tremendously.

Now, it’s only been 1 year since the transfer ban so he should be given more time – having not played for three years he’s not expected to be at his fullest. But what used to be “LSW consistently breezing past defenders” has diminished to “flashes of brilliance here and there.”

Knowing this kid’s intense competitiveness and work ethic I have faith he will make it back to form for the U20 World Cup in SK at least, but for now, we need to be patient with him.

Here is his most recent ball touch compilation:

And a season highlight (most of you guys have probably seen this one)