Kangin Lee had a spring in his step and was smiling from ear to ear when he arrived at the Hôtel Royal in Crans-Montana this morning. The teenager renewed his contract with Valencia on Friday, signing a new deal which will keep him at Mestalla until June 2022 and saw his buy-out clause raised to 80 million euros.
Coach Marcelino had been expecting Kangin Lee and was there to welcome him to the squad's summer base camp. The South Korean joined up with the Valencia party in Crans-Montana and could make his first team debut in Tuesday's friendly against Lausanne Sport. At 17, Kangin Lee has a bright future ahead of him as Valencia have known for a long time - technical staff at the club's youth academy have been surprised by how the attacking midfielder's development. He is regarded not just as one of Valencia's most promising players but also one of the most exciting talents to have emerged in Korean football.
"I've been with Valencia for seven years, almost a lifetime"
That Valencia have shown faith in him is a positive sign, says the player: "Right now I'm just very happy to have renewed with this great club. I need to continue working hard, day by day to reach the best of my abilities. I joined Valencia seven years ago - almost a lifetime for me, and everyone - my team mates, the coaching staff, have treated me really well".
Marcelino has been continuing the club's youth policy - gradually introducing players from the youth categories into the first team squad such as Lato and Ferran Torres as well as renewing contracts that were due to expire, as in the case of Javi Jiménez. Kangin Lee won't be the only youth academy player with Valencia's first team in Crans-Montana - he will be alongside Cristian, Centelles, Álex Blanco and Jordi Escobar who, at 16, is the youngest player taking part in the pre-season.
"Ever since I arrived at the club my dream was to play at Mestalla, be part of the first team and now I am so happy to be here. The club has placed its faith in the youth team and it's good for us to be here with the senior players. It's a dream come true for all of us - and a great opportunity for us too. I've come here to learn from the top players. I'm dreaming of playing in the top flight and I'll keep working to make that happen. Being with Valencia means everything to me", Kangin Lee concluded.