‘Golden Boy’ Lee Kang-in (Mallorca) was the best left-back in the Spanish Primera Liga in Round 36.
Football statistics site Fúscore.com released its Top 11 for the 36th round of La Liga on Sept. 27 (ET). In addition to Elche’s Tetteh Morente, who had the best performance, the list included Villarreal’s Nicola Jackson, Pepe Reina, and Atletico Madrid’s Saul Niguez. The left wing-back spot was filled by Lee Kang-in.
Lee Kang-in started at left wing-back against Valencia in La Liga Round 36 of the 2022-2023 season in Sonmoy, Mallorca, Spain, on Sept. 26. Mallorca lined up in a 3-4-3 formation. Ndiaye-Muraki-Cadeware up front, Lee Kang-in-Baba-Rodriguez-Mapeo at the back, Kopete-Balzent-Hajikadunic at the back, and Raikovic in goal. Lee Kang-in played both offense and defense on the left.
It was an unfamiliar position. At the beginning of the game, he focused on stopping the opponent’s wingers who were pushing forward. It was difficult for him to play an offensive role, but he made his presence felt. Created chances with his sharp kicks. Dedicated himself to taking set pieces. Valencia had the edge in the first half, but it ended 0-0. At the start of the second half, Mallorca took off Ntiajaye and brought on Costa, who also moved to the center of the pitch where Lee usually plays.
With the new shirt on, Lee made a big impact. In the 19th minute of the second half, he scored the winning goal. Lee sent in a left-footed cross that looked like it was cut from a ruler. Mourinho slid in a header. It was Lee’s 11th offensive point of the season. His fifth assist of the season. Lee spearheaded the counterattack as Mallorca went all-out on defense. He created a chance with a fantastic dribble. In the 26th minute, he showed a fantastic ball touch and dribble break from the touchline bouden. Lee had one of his best performances of the game 안전놀이터 until he was substituted for Sanchez in the 38th minute, as Mallorca held on for a 1-0 victory. With the win, Mallorca moved up to 11th place in the league with 47 points and secured their place in the top flight.
After the game, Lee received a rating of 8 on Fúscore.com, the highest for both teams. He completed 100% of his dribbles in four attempts. He also attempted three key passes. He was also named La Liga’s official Man of the Match. He dominated the game with his trademark crisp passing, accurate kicks, fluid dribbling, fantastic first touch, quick breaks, and solid ball-keeping.
It was interesting to hear Aguirre’s post-match comments. He admitted his tactical mistakes. “I chose Lee Kang-in to break down Valencia, but the experiment didn’t work out,” he said when asked about playing him at wingback. “I could have chosen Marcos Fernandez, but I’m still a bit worried about him,” he explained. “I didn’t like the first half, but in the second half I saw a much more recognizable team,” he concluded. Aguirre admitted: “I made a mistake. We didn’t have enough players in that position. I could have put Fernandez on, but Valencia thought they could collapse with Lee Kang-in, so I chose Lee Kang-in and the experiment didn’t work,” he admitted. “But in the second half, the team was better.”
Nevertheless, Lee reaffirmed his place in the round’s Best 11. He also performed well in an unfamiliar position. Lee is recognized as one of the best dribblers in the top five leagues, and he’s attracting attention from big clubs. In terms of success rate, he is well ahead of Vinicius Junior and Lionel Messi, who are considered the best dribblers in the world. He’s also in the top five or six in terms of number of successes. In other words, he’s the best in the world when it comes to dribbling. He is also recognized as the ‘KING’ in Spain.
Lee Kang-in is having his best season yet. He has six goals and five assists. He has double-digit offensive points. On February 2, Lee was nominated for the Primera Liga Team of the Year for the 2022-2023 season. Lee was nominated in the midfield category alongside Luka Modric, who is considered the best midfielder in the world, as well as Federico Valverde, Toni Kroos (Real Madrid), Frankie Douillon, Pedro and Pablo Gabi (Barcelona). Lee is the first South Korean player to be nominated for the team of the year. On March 28, he was also named Vesque Goal of the 30th round of La Liga. Lee received a whopping 65% of the vote, beating out the likes of Rafa Mir, Alexis Sanchez, Centeiro, and Ferrantores. Lee scored the winner against Getafe after sprinting 70 meters in second-half stoppage time. It was reminiscent of Son Heung-min’s goal against Burnley, which won him the Pushkas Award. Lee is the first South Korean player to win the Best Goal of the Round award. Lee was also nominated for the April Player of the Month award alongside Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid), Inaki Williams (Bilbao), Marco Asensio (Real Madrid), and Ronald Araujo (Barcelona). Lee is also the first South Korean player to be nominated for the award.
Lee is expected to leave Mallorca at the end of the season. He has a buyout clause of around €17 million. Currently, Manchester United, Atletico Madrid, Real Betis, AC Milan, Aston Villa, Napoli, and others are reportedly monitoring the player. Several big clubs in Spain, England, Italy, and elsewhere want him. More and more clubs are looking to sign him. The battle for Lee is expected to intensify after the season ends. 17 million euros is not a lot of money to pay for a world-class technician.