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Atlético fail to reach agreement with Mallorca for Lee Kang-In

What happened? And what’s next?

RCD Mallorca v Rayo Vallecano - LaLiga Santander Photo by Cristian Trujillo/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Atlético Madrid are not going to sign Mallorca midfielder Lee Kang-In this summer following a breakdown in negotiations with the island club, according to a report in Relevo on Monday morning.

Atlético have long kept tabs on Lee and, having kicked off negotiations with Mallorca in January, saw a pathway to signing him this summer. But Atleti were unwilling to pay the South Korean starlet’s €17 million release clause (which MARCA reported last month), and the club did not want to include Rodrigo Riquelme in a potential deal, as Matteo Moretto reports:

In recent weeks, the parties have continued negotiating, but without reaching an agreement that satisfies everyone. There was also the possibility of the transfer including a counterpart (for Lee Kang-In), but offering Riquelme, who was Mallorca’s preferred option, did not fully convince Atlético.

Riquelme is poised to receive a call-up to the Spanish national team following an injury to Dani Olmo, and a report in March claimed Atleti’s 2023/24 squad has a place reserved for him. It’s still possible the 23-year-old is loaned out one more time, but Riquelme demonstrated plenty of quality on loan at Girona last year and probably deserves his shot in the first team.


Of course, Riquelme’s path to playing time will be clearer if Atlético move Thomas Lemar or Saúl Ñíguez this summer — the kind of squad shuffling on which the Lee deal also hinged. Saúl made just 11 starts in LaLiga and has a prohibitive contract, while injuries beset Lemar again in a campaign that (kind of impressively) saw him fail to complete 90 minutes in any of his 32 appearances.

Meanwhile, Lee looks bound for France, where he will play for serial Ligue 1 winners Paris Saint-Germain. Moretto reported Tuesday that negotiations between PSG and Mallorca have progressed to an advanced stage.