When Kang-in Lee was rising through the ranks, earning comparisons with former Los Che whizzkids Isco and David Silva, the expectation was the South Korean sensation would earn Valencia a massive fee when one of Europe’s greatest ‘selling clubs’ did what it tends to do – ‘sell’.
But after running down his contract – and with La Liga rules meaning Valencia had to sacrifice one of their ‘non-EU’ players to make room for new striker Marcos Andre – Lee’s time on the Castellon coast came to a sudden conclusion in the summer.
His contract was ripped up on the last day of the transfer window.
A few hours later Lee joined top-flight newcomers Real Mallorca on a free transfer despite interest from Premier League trio Newcastle United, Southampton and Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Wolves coach Bruno Lage, a man who boasts a proud track record when it comes to developing technically gifted, up-and-coming forwards such as 20-year-old Lee, held talks regarding a summer switch to Molineux.
So it came as something of a surprise to see one of the most exciting young talents to come out of Asian football in many years opt for a Mallorca side likely to spend much of this season in and around the relegation zone.
Can Wolves and Newcastle target Kang-in Lee save Real Mallorca from relegation?
Last night’s thumping 6-1 defeat to a Marcos Asensio-led Real Madrid did little to change that feeling.
But with Lee joining Los Blancos loanee Takefusa Kubo in the Mallorca squad, head coach Luis Garcia Plaza can at least call on two players of “immense” potential.
Lee’s stunning long-range strike at the Bernabeu, skipping past Casemiro and David Alaba before finding the net with laser-guided precision, proved little more than a sideshow in an Asensio-inspired exhibition.
But it did offer a reminder of the potentially game-changing talent Mallorca have at their disposal.
In a relegation battle – and against sides less talented than Real Madrid – Lee’s ability to produce something special out of very little could prove the difference.
Here’s what some supporters on Twitter had to say about Lee’s performance: