In front of the Parc des Princes, in Paris, Friday November 24, Minju is stamping with impatience. The kick-off of the Ligue 1 match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and AS Monaco will be given in an hour, and the South Korean can’t wait to see Lee Kang-in in action. “I extended my trip to Europe by two days, just to come to Paris and see him play. I wanted to discover in what environment he now evolves”, explains the new supporter of the capital club. Unfortunately for her, that evening, Lee Kang-in will remain on the bench.
Like Minju, many South Koreans have developed a pion for PSG in recent months, after the arrival of their compatriot. A few hundred of them should still fill the stands of the Parc des Princes on Tuesday for the Champions League match against Newcastle, in the hope of seeing the 22-year-old winger.
Compared to last season, there are 20% more of them going to Porte d’Auteuil for each match. “These figures would be even higher if there were more tickets for resale”even insists Marc Armstrong, the revenue director of PSG.
The transfer of Lee Kang-in, in the summer of 2022, from Mallorca (Spain), against a check for 22 million euros, met a need “purely sporting”he ures: “But the positive economic impact is obviously a good thing. » These are impressive and make the South Korean a cash machine. According to Marc Armstrong, the player is “ at the same level as Kylian [Mbappé] in jersey sales worldwide ».
A few months later the departures of superstars Lionel Messi And Neymar, Paris has found a new marketing product. At the entrance to the club’s store, on Avenue des Champs-Elysées, three tunics flocked with the South Korean’s name overshadow the one dedicated to Kylian Mbappé. “Asian tourists line up in the morning before opening”testifies a saleswoman.
The new star of Asian football
To understand the “Lee phenomenon”, there should be no mistake: the young man is a star in his country. “Often, European clubs think that by buying a South Korean player, they will boost their income. But this is not true “, recalls Sungmo Lee, South Korean sports journalist. At a minimum, the person concerned must be identified by the local public. Which has been the case for the midfielder since he was very young.
At the age of 6, in 2007, Lee Kang-in took part in the reality TV show “Fly Shoot Dori”, which followed very young players toughening up with the ball. Winner of the show, he goes to the north of England to shoot a commercial with Park Ji-sung, the first South Korean to wear the colors of Manchester United. After Cha Bum-geun, in the 1970s and 1980s, Park Ji-sung in the early 2000s, and Son Heung-min, the Tottenham striker, he is the new icon of South Korean and Asian football.
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