“Bayern Munich will not be the end of Kim Min-jae’s career.”
What will be the next step for ‘monster defender’ Kim Min-jae (27)?
Italy’s Napoli Magazine published an interview with Kim Min-jae’s former coach, Vitor Pereira, on the 4th (below)
. He, who discovered Kim Min-jae when he was the head coach of Fenerbahçe, said that Kim Min-jae can still improve.
Pereira and Kim first met at Turkkiye.
While he was in charge of Fenerbahçe from July to December 2021, he recruited Kim from the Chinese Super League (CSL). It was a gift that helped him break into Europe.
Pereira reportedly had his eye on Kim since he was playing in China.
He watched him play as a key defender for Beijing Guoan when he was head coach of Shanghai Shenhua, and he didn’t forget about him after his arrival at Fenerbahce.
He was spot-on. Kim quickly established himself in the Fenerbahçe starting lineup and developed into one of the best defenders in the Ligue 1.
He was named in the league’s Team of the Year after dominating the Turkiye stage with his physicality, speed, and defensive prowess.
Kim’s career was just getting started, and just one season after his arrival in Turkuje, he left for Napoli in a €20 million transfer.
It was the moment when a player who was playing in China just two years ago – and an Asian center back at that – stepped foot in Europe’s top four leagues.
But even Serie A was not enough for Kim.
Upon arriving in Italy, Kim took the league by storm, winning the Serie A secretariat’s Player of the Month award in September and the Italian Footballers’ Association’s Player of the Month award in October.
His rapid rise to world-class status led him to win the Serie A Best Defender trophy for the 2022-2023 season.
The numbers alone are staggering. Kim scored two goals and provided two assists in 35 league games last season, giving Napoli the league record for fewest goals conceded (28).
In those 35 games, he was on the pitch for a whopping 3054 minutes.
His stats are also impressive: 1.6 tackles, 1.2 interceptions, 3.5 clearances, and 0.7 shot blocks per game.
It was a year for the ages for Napoli, too.
Napoli won the Serie A title for the first time in 33 years in 2022-2023 behind Kim’s ironclad defense, conceding the fewest goals in the league.
Winning their first Scudetto since the Diego Maradona era.
Kim Min-jae’s name was not left off the ballot for soccer’s most prestigious award.
He was ranked 22nd in the Ballon d’Or rankings released by French soccer magazine France Football on March 31.
He was the only Asian national among the 30 finalists and the highest ranked defender.
This means that Kim was the best center back in the world for the 2022-2023 season.
Other defenders who made the final list include Josuco Gvardiol and Jubeng Dias (both of Manchester City).
Gbadiol, who joined City for £77.6 million last summer, was ranked 25th, while Dias, who won the ‘treble’ last season, was ranked 30th.
In fact, an Asian defender being shortlisted for the Ballon d’Or is new history. Until now, every Asian player nominated for the Ballon d’Or has been a striker or midfielder.
For South Korea, it was Seol Ki-hyun in 2002, Park Ji-sung in 2005 and Son Heung-min in 2019 and 2022, while for other countries it was Hidetoshi Nakata (Japan) in 1998 and 1999 and Younis Mahmoud (Iraq) in 2007.
This is the fourth Ballon d’Or nomination for a South Korean player in history and tied for second in the final standings.
Kim tied with Son Heung-min in 2019, ahead of Park Ji-sung and Seol Ki-hyun, who did not receive any points.
Son Heung-min is the highest-ranked Asian player of all time, having finished 22nd in the 2019 Ballon d’Or and 11th in 2022.
The best player in Asia also belonged to Kim Min-jae, who won the 2022 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) International Player of the Year award ahead of Mehdi Taremi (Iran) and Kaoru Mitoma (Japan).
He is the second South Korean player to win the award, following Son Heung-min in 2015, 2017, and 2019. 온라인카지노
Now, as a member of the ‘German Champions’, Kim Min-jae is chasing another trophy. He joined the Bavarians just one season after arriving from Napoli, changing jerseys again.
His transfer fee more than doubled in a year to €50 million.
Manchester United, PSG, Newcastle United, and many other clubs were in the running, but it was Munich, with Thomas Tuchel making the final move, who won out.
In Germany, there was no need to adapt.
Kim immediately established himself as a key defender, always protecting the Bavarian backline.
Even when his partners Dayo Upamecano and Matthias Der Licht went down, Kim was always there to hold the defense together.