Lee Seung-woo left without team as Sint-Truiden terminates contract

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Lee Seung-woo left without team as Sint-Truiden terminates contract

Lee Seung-woo [YONHAP]

Lee Seung-woo [YONHAP]

 
Lee Seung-woo, once considered one of Korea’s biggest footballing prospects, is unemployed.
 
Belgian club Sint-Truiden announced Tuesday that the 23 year old’s contract had been terminated by “mutual agreement.” Following the decision, Lee is now a free agent and will look for a new deal this winter.
 
Lee is a product of the Barcelona football academy and was once considered a footballing prodigy touted as the “Korean Messi.”
 
But despite a strong youth career — Lee appeared for Korean youth teams across a number of tournament and was MVP of the 2014 AFC U-16 Championship — Lee’s transition to the adult game has not been smooth.
 
After years in the Barcelona academy, the closest Lee got to the top flight was a single appearance with the B team before he moved to Hellas Verona on a four year deal.
 
That move made Lee one of the only Koreans to make it to Italy’s Serie A, but again it was short lived. In two years with Verona, Lee made 37 appearances, scoring only twice.
 
In 2019, Lee joined Belgian side Sint-Truiden. In Belgium, he was given even fewer opportunities, making his debut four months after he joined the club.
 
Lee spent most of this year on loan to Portuguese side Portimonense, where he made just six appearances.
 
Lee has also struggled at the international level. Ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Lee was dropped from the U-23 squad because of his disappointing performance in friendlies ahead of the competition.
 
Lee is expected to now take a step back from European football, likely looking for opportunities in less competitive leagues like Korea’s K League or in Japan, the Middle East or the United States.
 
The opportunity to fade out of the spotlight for a few years will likely give him a chance to focus on improving his game without the pressure of living up to his childhood potential.

BY JIM BULLEY [jim.bulley@joongang.co.kr]
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