Matteo Moretto says the potential transfer is “simmering,” and Atlético believe the time is now to acquire a player in whom there has been long-standing interest. Per Moretto:
In January, the Colchoneros made an offer for Lee that Mallorca rejected. Los Bermellones responded to the offer by saying “He’s not leaving now, we’ll see in June.” Mallorca considered the Asian talent too important to the team’s dynamics and needed him to be able to achieve certain objectives, such as staying in LaLiga, something that is practically assured.
Atlético took advantage of Wednesday’s LaLiga match against Mallorca to hold further discussions over Lee. There are reportedly positive vibes between the parties as they work toward an agreement, and Diego Simeone is said to have given the “OK” to the former Valencia player’s signing.
Moretto reports that Mallorca will sell Lee for a fee between €15 million and €20 million, and competition is high — English clubs Burnley, Brighton, Wolves, and Aston Villa are following the 22-year-old closely.
This deal is important to Atlético for a couple reasons. First, this is the kind of speedy, dynamic attacking midfielder the club should be targeting as it begins another transitional phase. The left-footed Lee has emerged as an essential player at Javier Aguirre’s industrious Mallorca, with 9 goal contributions (5 scored/4 assisted) and 95 shot-creating actions in 2,300 minutes this season. He’d represent an upgrade over Thomas Lemar, who has had a challenging and injury-plagued season in Simeone’s midfield.
Second, Atlético last week confirmed a friendly in South Korea this summer against Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. Lee is South Korean and has made 12 appearances for his country’s senior team — he also won the Golden Ball at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 2019.
Atleti last ventured to Asia as part of its 2015/16 preseason tour, playing friendlies in China and Japan, but have never visited the Korean Peninsula and are looking to make inroads with fans there. Playing a preseason game there and acquiring the youthful Lee are good ways to do that.
Lee has obvious room to grow and mature on the pitch, and from a business perspective, he represents a foray into a market Atlético haven’t really tapped into. This should be a no-brainer, especially at the rumored price.