Alfonso Diaz, CEO of Spain’s La Liga Mallorca, drew a line on the ‘winter transfer rumors’ surrounding ‘Golden Boy’ Lee Kang-in (22), a key midfielder. On the 10th (Korean time), he met with Sports Seoul alone at Visit Mallorca Estadi and put forward the ‘Lee Kang-in transfer policy’. Although he kept quiet about the ‘Lee Kang-in buyout (minimum transfer fee) of 17 million euros (22.8 billion won)’ mentioned by the Spanish media, he seemed confident that he would remain in Mallorca for the rest of the season.
Lee Kang-in, who has grown into one of the pillars of Korean football following Son Heung-min (Tottenham), made his professional first team debut through La Liga Valencia in 2019, when he led Korea’s U-20 World Cup runner-up and won the Golden Ball. However, he did not consistently seize his chances, so he settled in Mallorca last season, and hit a turning point by playing 30 league games (1 goal and 2 assists), the most in a season in his career.
This season, he has been reborn as the team’s flagship player. He upgraded his defense power as well as his unique creative coordination of offense and defense using his left foot, and participated in all league games (16 games) that the team played. As of the 10th, he is recording 2 goals and 3 assists.
It is thanks to the World Cup in Qatar that Lee Kang-in’s value has increased. In the second game of the group stage against Ghana, 토토 he played a role as a ‘game changer’ in Korea’s four matches, including the ‘courier cross’ that helped Cho Kyu-sung’s header recovery goal.
In the winter transfer market right after the World Cup, Lee Kang-in’s stock price is soaring. Spanish media Marca reported that four European clubs are aiming for Kang-in Lee. The names of teams such as Newcastle and Aston Villa in the English Premier League (EPL), Burnley in the Championship (Part 2), and Pyejenoord in the Netherlands Eredivisie were also specifically mentioned. In fact, the EPL club dispatched a scout to observe Lee Kang-in in the match between Mallorca and Atletico Madrid ahead of the World Cup last November.
Lee Kang-in has a contract with Mallorca until June 2025. However, European media, including Marca, predicted that a club with financial ability like Newcastle could pay Lee Kang-in’s buyout, and it would be difficult for Mallorca to catch on.
Diaz CEO dismissed it as ‘just a rumor’. He said, “Lee Kang-in is our key player, and he knows him well. He is an absolutely necessary player for the goal (part 1) to remain. He also said many times that he was happy here. Right now, both the club and the players are happy,” he said, confident that he would remain with the team regardless of the buyout.
Lee Kang-in and Mallorca are actually a ‘win-win structure’. Lee Kang-in, who struggled to survive La Liga, reached a turning point in his career after coming to Mallorca. There is also a word called ‘wrong choice’ for Valencia sending him. On the other hand, CEO Diaz and the Mallorca club, who recruited Lee Kang-in, consider it a great fortune. Not only did his market value increase, but he also received 200 million won in compensation for participating in the World Cup.
Diaz CEO said, “Lee Kang-in played an important role for Korea in the World Cup. I think he clearly proved the difference when he played,” he said. In addition, “In recent months, everyone has witnessed Lee Kang-in being reborn as a team leader with great performance and mental strength in Mallorca. He will further evolve as a human and professional player by adding the World Cup experience.”
It remains to be seen what changes will occur in the winter transfer market, with CEO Diaz making his first remarks about ‘protecting Lee Kang-in’ through the domestic media.