Seung Woo Lee’s short-term future could be away from Barcelona. Possibly in Germany or Holland. The South Korean forward plays for the club’s Juvenil A team and, per his contract, will move up to Barça B next season. But given his development this year, his entourage are beginning to think a loan would be better.
Lee, who on Friday will turn 19, has seen his progression slow down. The player is already an icon in his native country and has been the focus of attention for some time. However, the negative of that ‘boom’ in media coverage is the expectations which are generated. Expectations which as of today the teenager is not able to fulfil.
More on a level of sensations than numbers, Lee does seem to have stalled. Not only is he not a regular in Gabri’s side, but he was also a substitute in the two biggest games of the season so far, against Manchester City in the UEFA Youth League. Things are not going for the forward and on occasions, such as when he was sent off against Cornella for aggression, he has not been able to hide his frustration.
Aside from having missed so much competitive football due to FIFA’s transfer ban, Lee is showing another handicap physically: he suffers a lot when going body-to-body with his rivals and this problem would be multiplied in Segunda B (or in La Liga 1,2,3 in the case Barça B get promoted).
To this backdrop, those close to him are beginning to think that the best for the player would be a loan next season. The current situation suggests it would be unrealistic to imagine Lee getting many minutes for the B team, so the intention is to avoid a year with little competitive action. Among the hypothetical destinations are mid-range teams in Germany and Holland.
Barça are not looking too far ahead but they are aware that Lee’s progression has not been as desired. Economically, the player’s release clause will increase from three million euros to 12 million euros if he’s finally promoted to the B team. The Blaugrana aren’t thinking of letting him leave, but are beginning to think that a loan would be the best option -- both to avoid him losing value on the market and for his growth as a player.
However, Seung Woo Lee is reluctant to leave. His dream is to be a success at Barcelona and he fears a loan may not come with a return journey. In any case, there’s a long way to go this season and things could still take a turn in any direction.