Berlin (AFP) – South Korean attacking midfielder Jae-sung Lee has signed for Bundesliga side Mainz on a free transfer after narrowly missing promotion last season with ex-club Holstein Kiel.
The 28-year-old banged in 23 goals in 104 games over four years with second-tier side Kiel, who lost a two-legged play-off against Cologne last May to miss out on promotion to Germany’s top flight.
Nevertheless, Lee, who has played 53 times for South Korea, will play Bundesliga football next season having signed a three-year contract after “good” conversations with Mainz’s Danish head coach Bo Svensson.
“Here in Mainz, my dream of playing in the Bundesliga is coming true,” said Lee, a 2014 Asian Games gold medallist.
He hopes to make his Bundesliga debut when Mainz host last season’s runners-up RB Leipzig on August 15 during the first weekend of the 2021/22 campaign.
“Jae-sung was one of the best players in the second division,” said Svensson.
“He has a lot of heart and will give everything for our club.”
Lee, who also plays on the wing, joined Kiel in 2018 after four years with South Korean club Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, winners of the 2016 Asian Champions League.
Having initially struggled last seaon, Mainz turned their fortunes around once Svensson took charge in January by winning six of their last 10 league games, including a shock 2-1 defeat of giants Bayern Munich.
“I followed Mainz’s great second-half of last season and now I want to help the team,” Lee added.
He joins Mainz with compatriot Dong-won Ji leaving to join South Korean club FC Seoul in the K-League.