June 12, 2020 11:16
Ki Sung-yueng of RCD Mallorca is under pressure to perform now that Spain's La Liga has resumed about three months after it was suspended due to the coronavirus epidemic.
The first game of the resumed season was Thursday's Seville derby between Sevilla and Real Betis. The league's 20 clubs will play the remaining 11 matches each through July 20, mostly in empty stadiums as spectators are not allowed due to the virus.
Korean football fans are hoping Ki will appear in Mallorca's home game against FC Barcelona on Saturday.
Ki said he kept busy with personal training and studying Spanish for the past two months in Mallorca while his wife, actress Han Hye-jin, and daughter stayed in Korea.
He talked about how hard his life has been in a recent video call with fellow footballer Koo Ja-cheol, saying he has not been able to see his daughter for four months, and that he has only been able to go to grocery stores for the past two months.
But with the easing of lockdown measures in Spain, he began small group training sessions late last month and team training from June 1, while working out to improve his form.
Ki signed a four-month short-term contract with Mallorca in February, but only appeared in one match before the league was put on hold. He played for about 10 minutes after being substituted in the 82nd minute in a match against SD Eibar on March 7.
As he only has about three weeks left on his contract, he needs to put in some impressive performances in the five matches in June if he is to have a chance to renew his contract or negotiate with other teams.
After 27 matches so far this season, Mallorca is sitting in 18th place among 20 teams with 25 points from seven wins, four draws and 16 losses. In La Liga, the lowest-placed teams at the end of each season are relegated to the second division.
The match against Barcelona will be a good opportunity for Ki to make his presence known.
If he gets to play, he will face Argentine football star Lionel Messi for the first time in 10 years. Ki and Messi met in the second group match of the World Cup in South Africa in 2010, where Korea lost to Argentina 4-1.
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