Valencia CF of La Liga posted a photo of Lee Kang-in, 19, powerfully kicking a ball on its Twitter account on Tuesday. The tweet was to inform fans of Lee’s comeback to Valencia’s last training of 2019 after his rehab in South Korea.
Leading the South Korean squad to a runner-up at the FIFA U-20 World Cup Poland 2019, Lee got credit for his contribution to the team and won the Golden Ball as the best player of the tournament. He got the nickname “the next Messi” as he became the first player to win the Golden Ball at the age of 18, the same age Messi won the award in 2005. While extending his playing time in Valencia after the World Cup, Lee had an injury in his left thigh during a match against Chelsea at the UEFA Champions League in late November. As a result, he could not make it to the qualification tournament for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which will be held in Thailand from Jan. 8.
Lee, who is working hard for a complete recovery, is expected to make a comeback sooner or later. Spanish sport daily AS reported that Lee is aiming to play at a Super Cub match against Real Madrid on Jan. 8. Lee could also play as a key midfielder for the U-23 South Korean national football team if South Korea is advanced to the Tokyo Olympic tournament.
Earlier, Lee expressed his willingness to play in the Olympics, saying that he would play any tournament for the national team. “Lee will not be able to play at the Olympic qualification tournament due to his injury but Valencia is favorable to Lee’s participation in the Olympics,” an official at the Korea Football Association (KFA) said. “We will ask Valencia for Lee’s temporary transfer if the South Korean national team makes it to the Olympic tournament.” Messi helped his country Argentina win the gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics when he was 21. Lee would become an Olympic medalist at a younger age than Messi if Lee helps the South Korean team win a medal at the Olympics.
Yun-Cheol Jeong email@example.com