Not Son Heung-min, Kim Min-jae is a Korean player making a mark in European football in the 2022/23 season.
Kim Min-jae has just become the first Korean player to win the Serie A title with Napoli. In the history of the top 5 European championships, this 26-year-old midfielder is the second Korean player to take the throne after Park Ji-sung (MU). Kim left a strong mark in his first year in Serie A and helped Napoli to the championship after 33 years of waiting.
Kim started her career in 2016 at the Gyeongju KHNP semi-professional team. It was not until 5 years later that the midfielder had his first time in Europe to play. He joined Fenerbahce in a contract worth 3 million euros.
Kim’s luggage to Europe is the massive body (1.90 m) and solid muscles of a classic midfielder. The nickname “Monster” (Monster – PV) was given to Kim by fans thanks to his impressive fighting and aerial combat ability. These skills make it easy for him to overwhelm strikers in Korea or China, where he played for two years for Beijing Gouan.
At Fenerbahce, Kim did not win any titles. But the quality of the 26-year-old midfielder was noticed by Napoli’s sporting director Cristiano Giuntoli. The Naples club did not hesitate to spend 18 million euros to welcome Kim back to play in the summer of 2022. The decision to go to Serie A created a turning point in the career of the Korean player.
Kim is seen as a replacement for Kalidou Koulibaly, one of Napoli’s best central defenders in recent years. But the Korean player is not under much pressure, on the contrary, plays with more and more confidence and certainty.
The FIFA homepage says that Kim’s defensive skills combined with defenders Giovanni Di Lorenzo and Amir Rrahmani help Napoli have a solid foundation in defence. Coach Luciano Spalletti’s team conceded only 23 goals after 33 rounds, the best achievement in Serie A.
“From the moment he started holding the ball in his feet, Kim only took 5 seconds to put the ball into the opponent’s penalty area. Every game, he will create at least 20 extraordinary things. For me, Kim is really a central defender. best in the world right now,” Napoli coach Luciano Spalletti praised his students after the victory over Atalanta on March 12.
Coach Spalletti was the one who raised Kim’s level at Napoli. The Italian strategist helps Kim improve his judgment, contribute to his play and improve his thinking. Infogol statistics Kim has passed 2,520 passes in Serie A since the beginning of the tournament, achieving an accuracy rate of 91%. On average, the Korean player makes 81 passes per game.
Legendary Park Ji-sung also praised Kim: “It’s a real talent. Kim does great things, and at the same time shows leadership qualities and personality at Napoli”.
Sublimated with Napoli in both Serie A and Champions League, Kim was ranked by FourFourTwo magazine in the top 10 best defenders in the world right now, alongside Antonio Rudiger, David Alaba or Ruben Dias. It’s an acknowledgment of Kim’s talent.
Son Heung-min is overshadowed
While Kim shined in Serie A with the first European title of his career, Son is still struggling at Tottenham. The London team faces the risk of continuing to experience a blank season. The team was eliminated in all cup competitions and could not compete for the Premier League title.
Son and Kim are both mainstays in the national team. After the 2022 World Cup, both are expected to make their mark in the European arena. But only Kim can do it, and Son loses himself. Signs of age weighed heavily on Son’s footsteps. The captain of the Korean team has only scored 10 goals in 32 matches. In addition, the ineffective team layout of coach Antonio Conte makes Son less influential.
This summer, Son will turn 31. For an Asian winger, fitness and wear and tear are the challenge of playing in England. This is in contrast to Kim, a centre-back who is at the height of his career and is sought after by many European teams.
For many years, Son was the best player in Korea. But in the near future, things could change.