SEOUL, Nov 17 — South Korea coach Jurgen Klinsmann said Lee Kang-in has reached “a completely new level” after the Paris Saint-Germain attacking midfielder starred in his country’s big World Cup qualifying win over Singapore.

Lee was used sparingly by Klinsmann’s predecessor Paulo Bento but set up the first goal and scored one himself as South Korea began their campaign with a 5-0 stroll in Seoul on Thursday.

Klinsmann said the 22-year-old’s development since joining PSG over the summer from Mallorca had been “a joy” and backed him to keep maturing.

“He understands now, step by step, not only to do his thing in the game going forward and maybe scoring a goal or giving an assist and being a dribbler and all that — he also works hard defensively,” Yonhap news agency quoted Klinsmann as saying.

“It’s fantastic for Korean football and the national team to have a player like him to go to a completely new level.”

Lee set South Korea on their way at the end of the first half when his cross picked out FC Midtjylland forward Cho Gue-sung for the opener.

Captain Son Heung-min, Hwang Hee-chan and substitute Hwang Ui-jo also got on the scoresheet before Lee hit South Korea’s fifth in the 85th minute.

It was his fourth goal in three games for his country.

Klinsmann said Lee can help unlock the packed defences that South Korea are likely to face in the opening round of World Cup qualifiers.

South Korea face China away on Tuesday.

“You need players that can cross the balls in, you need runs into the box, you need fast passing, high tempo and getting balls if possible maybe behind the backline if there’s a little bit of space,” said Klinsmann.

“Kang-in can play these balls. He can score himself.

“The growth of Kang-in over the last six months is a joy for us as coaches.”

Lee has been on target twice for PSG this season, scoring against Milan in the Champions League and Montpellier in the French league.

“In every training session and every match I try to become a better player,” Yonhap quoted Lee as saying. — AFP