Lee Kang-in (22-PSG) has been ruled out of action for nearly a month with a thigh injury, leaving PSG, the national team, and the Asian Games squad all grappling with his absence.
The PSG club announced on its website on Feb. 22 (KST)바카라, “Lee Kang-in sustained an injury to his left quadriceps. He will undergo treatment until the end of the A-match period,” the club announced on its website, indicating that he will be out of action for the foreseeable future.
In simple terms, the quadriceps is the muscle in the front of the thigh. When Lee was playing for Mallorca last season, he developed particularly strong thigh muscles, which he used as a foundation to overcome opponents and perform well on the European stage. His thigh muscles were so prominent that Mallorca’s social media accounts featured them separately. It turns out that the quads are the ones that are in trouble this time around.
Lee joined PSG at the beginning of last month. He injured the back of his right thigh, or hamstring, in the 42nd minute of the first pre-season friendly against Le Havre on the 21st of the same month, and after nearly two weeks off, he returned to action as a midway substitute in the second half of PSG’s final pre-season match against North Korea at the Asiad Stadium in Busan on the 3rd.
Since then, he has made back-to-back starts in the first and second rounds of the 2023/24 regular season and seemed to be on the verge of landing in Ligue 1, but an unexpected injury has forced him to enter rehabilitation mode again.
First of all, Lee’s injury is not a life-threatening one for his club PSG. PSG has a number of French international players, including Kylian Mbappe, who recently reconciled with the club after a bitter falling out, so losing him wouldn’t leave a huge hole.
On the other hand, Jürgen Klinsmann’s national team and Hwang Sun-hong’s U-24 Asian Games squad will have a big hole to fill as Lee is a key part of their midfield or flanking attack.
Lee’s injury is particularly painful as he has been a starter for his former club Mallorca in Spain over the past year and has developed into a quality midfielder in La Liga, a resource that both Klinsmann and Hwang will need.
For now, Klinsmann’s hopes of getting on board are effectively dashed. With the club’s announcement that he will be rehabbing until after the A-League break, it’s almost impossible for Klinsmann to be recalled. In a recent online chat with some media outlets, Klinsmann refused to allow Lee Kang-in to join Hwang Sun-hong during the A-League, citing the logic that it would be better for Lee to play high-level A-League matches to get his feet wet before heading to the Asian Games.
However, Lee Kang-in’s injury made it very difficult to recall him for the two Tests in England, against Wales on Aug. 8 and Saudi Arabia on Aug. 13. Klinsmann, who was at odds with Hwang, was put in the ridiculous position of having to listen to criticism and not being able to use Lee.
Hwang, on the other hand, is different. For one thing, it’s arithmetically possible for Lee to be part of the men’s soccer schedule for the Hangzhou Asian Games, which start next month on the 19th. Of course, he’ll be out of action for four weeks, so there’s a chance he’ll be out of sorts, and the injury and rehabilitation period could be prolonged. However, if Lee Kang-in sticks to his rehabilitation for the time being, he could come into the Asian Games refreshed and ready to go.
In soccer circles, it’s believed that Lee will be in Hangzhou somehow, as winning the Asian Games would give him a special exemption from military service that could prolong his stay in Europe. The injury will force Lee to miss four matches, including two Ligue 1 rounds 3 and 4 and two Klinsmannhoe A matches, and he may decide that it is better to get rid of the pain now and come to Hangzhou than to get injured or have a problem and miss the Asian Games.
A senior soccer official said on the 24th, “As long as Lee Kang-in doesn’t have any major problems, I think he will come to Hangzhou. It is fortunate that the rehabilitation period will end a few days before the Hangzhou Asian Games.”
For coach Hwang Sun-hong, even if he can’t use Lee in the early stages of the Asian Games, he can still get through the group stage, so he could bring Lee to Hangzhou and then use him in the tournament if he loses. South Korea opens its Group E campaign against Middle Eastern powerhouse Kuwait on Sept. 19, then faces Southeast Asian powerhouse Thailand two days later on Sept. 21. They will close out the group three days later on Sept. 24 against another Middle Eastern team, Bahrain.
The tournament will conclude with the round of 16 on September 27-28, which will be 10 days after Lee completes his rehabilitation at PSG, so he should be in good shape.
It is also possible that he will join Hwang Sun-hong during the Asian Games once he has completed his rehabilitation at PSG. In the past, when Ki Sung-yueng was at the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games, his then club Celtic of Scotland proposed a plan to send him to the round of 16, which ultimately fell through and he didn’t play at all.
At the 2014 Incheon Asian Games, there were also observations that Son Heung-min, who was playing for Leverkusen in Germany at the time, would join the team from the round of 16, but Leverkusen refused to send him.
This time, however, Lee Kang-in’s delay is due to injury, not his team, and Hwang Seon-Hong Ho will need his European Class A skills from the start of the tournament, so there is a good chance that he will be utilized from the round of 16, even if he rests a bit in the group stage. If it was a muscle tear or something else, the medical community would have given him a 6-8 week diagnosis and he wouldn’t have been able to compete at the Asian Games, but with a 3 week diagnosis, it is expected that he will be able to treat the pain as much as possible and join the team for the Hangzhou Asian Games. Even if his rehabilitation is a little slower, he will be able to show his best from the tournament.
Lee Kang-in is considered the centerpiece of Hwang Sun-Hong Ho’s midfield, which features a number of international players, including Uhm Won-sang (Ulsan), Jung Woo-young (Stuttgart), Hong Hyun-seok (Ghent) and Baek Seung-ho (Jeonbuk). If he comes to the Asian Games, opposing defenses will have a hard time keeping him in check. That’s why he’s so eager to get to Hangzhou, and why the U-24 national team will be waiting as long as possible for him to join them.
Lee Kang-in’s plans to join Klinsmann in September fell through, but his relationship with Hwang Sun-hong appears to be far from over. With the speed of his rehabilitation, South Korean soccer can hope to become the first men’s soccer team to win three consecutive Asian Games titles. After winning gold at the 1986 Seoul Asian Games, South Korea went on to win their first gold medal in 28 years, beating North Korea 1-0 in extra time in the final of the 2014 Incheon Asian Games at Anbang.
Five years later, at the 2018 Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games, South Korea won its second consecutive title with a 2-1 victory over Japan in the final, featuring Tottenham superstar Son Heung-min, as well as Hwang Hee-chan, Cho Hyun-woo, Hwang Eui-jo and Lee Seung-woo.