Kim Min-jae, ‘No. 1 center back in 2023,’ The future could have changed… “Laccio seeks to recruit before going to Fenerbahce.”

December 26, 2023 | by

Kim was offered by Lazio before moving to Fenerbahce.

“Korean Monster” Kim Min-jae took the Italian stage after moving to Napoli, but a year earlier, he had the opportunity to enter Italy.

That’s what Lazio pushed for. Igli Tare, Lazio’s former sports director, said he had tried to recruit Kim in the past. According to the Turkiyen media outlet ‘sporx’, he said, “When Kim Min-jae was playing in China, I made a proposal. It’s such a shame I couldn’t bring him.”

Kim Min-jae is a key center back in South Korea. He is 190-centimeter-tall physique, demonstrating stable defense and even has a build-up capability, which is essential for modern center backs. His right foot is the main focus, but he also uses his left foot well, and in case of emergency, he can participate in offense by actively dribbling.

He has grown step by step. After serving as a member of KHNP in Gyeongju, he joined Jeonbuk Hyundai in 2017, and led Jeonbuk to the league title in its first year since its debut, and was named the K League 1 Young Player Award and Best 11.

Kim Min-jae instantly grew into a top defender in Korea. His next destination was China. Korean fans expressed concern over Kim Min-jae, who moved to Beijing Guoan in January 2019, but it was just a groundless remark. Kim Min-jae maintained a consistent performance even in the Chinese league, and European clubs’ interest continued.

As such, in August 2021, Kim Min-jae’s much-anticipated entry into the European league came true. His destination was Fenerbahce in the Turkiyen League. As mentioned, many other teams were interested in Fenerbahce as well, but Kim chose Fenerbahce as his first step. It wasn’t a big league, but it was a good enough team to make it his first experience in Europe. Kim Min-jae led the team by working with Attiler Sulay, and European teams’ interest in him increased.

Only one year after entering the European league. Kim Min-jae succeeded in entering the big league. His destination was Naples, the ‘famous’ of Italy’s Serie A. As Name Value is a considerable team, Korean fans couldn’t hide their excitement over Kim Min-jae’s move.

At the same time, there were concerns. Kalidou Koulibaly, Napoli’s “living legend,” should replace Kim. Local Napoli fans also did not expect an Asian player from Fenerbahce to replace Koulibaly, who was considered the world’s best center back.

However, Kim proved himself with his ability. Having formed a solid center-back duo with Amir Rahmani, Kim has become a core of Napoli. Helped by Kim Min-jae’s performance, Napoli lifted the Scudetto team for the first time in 33 years since the 1989-90 season, and Kim Min-jae was named the Italian Serie A best defender after this season.

Later, Kim joined Bayern Munich. Starting from the opening game of the league, Kim has kept his starting position since then. Even with his partners Dayo Upakemano and Matthijs the Licht injured, Kim remained strong.

Kim Min-jae, who became the center of defense and build-up for Munich. He was criticized by German legend Lothar Matheus, but he proved his worth perfectly in the matches afterwards. In the match against Mainz, he also recorded a 100 percent pass success rate.

The pass success rate is 100 percent. It’s an unbelievable record even to the eyes. Kim Min-jae succeeded in all 102 passes he tried in the game. It was the first time in 18 months that a player tried more than 100 passes. The previous record came in February 2022, according to the ‘Sopa Score.’ Aymeric Laport, who was a member of Manchester City at the time, succeeded in all 110 passes.

It recently ranked 22nd. Last month, it revealed its ranking through its official SNS. Starting from the 30th place, the ranking was revealed one by one, followed by Martin ᄋᅀᅳᅵdegaard, Randal Kolo Muani, and Niccolo Barella. Kim Min-jae, dubbed “Korean Monster,” ranked 22nd overall. This was higher than Hoobeng Diaz and Yoshko Gvardiol, ranking first among all center backs.

It has also become the best player in Asia. The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) secretariat announced the AFC International Player of the Year award through its official channel on the 1st. The main character was Kim Min-jae. The federation officially announced, “Kim Min-jae had a successful season by winning the Italian Serie A title, and he is currently playing impressively for Bayern Munich. He thus won the International Player of the Year award.”

Kim Min-jae, who has been starting since the opening game. It is only natural why Munich cannot exclude him. Because he is the key in tactics. Not only his defensive skills but also Kim Min-jae is playing a pivotal role in the rear build-up. Coach Thomas Tuchel strongly demands Kim Min-jae’s forward pass, and his pass creates several opportunities. This creates intermittent crises, but this is a sufficiently acceptable level.

Soccer statistical media “Huscoord” also left a rave review of Kim Min-jae. The media listed Kim Min-jae’s strengths and weaknesses through official SNS. Strengths were selected as pass, right to provide, and concentration. All of the mentioned abilities are well-known Kim Min-jae’s biggest strength.

Then, what areas did the media pick as their weaknesses? Consequently, none were found. “Kim Min-jae does not have any clear weaknesses,” the media said, showing that Kim Min-jae is a flawless defender.

As a result, there was even a controversy over the excessive force. Since the last game against Galatasaray, this concern has intensified. In the corresponding game, Kim also started as a starter and played full-time. However, unlike in the past when he consistently stayed in the top ranks in his team’s ratings, he received the lowest rating this time. Based on soccer statistics media’s “Sopa Score,” Kim recorded four clear times, one interception, one tackle, and a pass success rate of 93 percent, but he failed to adequately catch up with Bakambu, who penetrated into the back space when losing points. He thus received a score of 6.7 percent, which was the lowest rating in his team along with Sané.

Fortunately, he took a rest recently. The game against Union Berlin was canceled due to heavy snow. Kim Min-jae, who failed to take rest properly as a starter in every game and played full-time, was given a long vacation of a week.

He also led his team to victory in the match against Wolfsburg, the last game of the first half of the season. He recorded “sofa score” criteria, two clearances, three interceptions, and two tackles, and won all four competitions for right to serve. His pass success rate was 92 percent, and he also recorded one key pass. He observed the score at 6.8. “Huscoord” also gave Kim a 6.8 rating. Notably, he seemed to be outstanding when he tried to win the ball through physical struggle in the competition with the opponent team’s striker. The opponent team’s coach protested that it was a foul, but Tuchel also argued with the opponent team, saying that it was a legitimate struggle.

He was listed as one of the best 11 players in the first half of the German Bundesliga. Based on the scores of the first half of the five major European leagues, “Huscoord” set the best 11, and Kim Min-jae confidently took the position of center back. With a rating of 7.14, he was higher than Odylong Kosunu (7.01) and Jonathan Ta (7.01), who were left and right stoppers.

However, German soccer legend Lothar Matheus recently appeared on “Sky Sports” and selected the best 11 players in the first half of the 2023-24 season of the German Bundesliga. There was no name for Kim Min-jae. He set up a defensive line with players from Jeremy Frimpong, Ta, Edmond Tapso, Alex Grimaldo, and Bayer Leverkusen.

The German media Bild also gave poor reviews. Kim ranked fifth in the rankings of players in Bayern Munich. His rating was much lower than that of Matthijs the Ligt, who was pushed out of the competition due to injury on 3.26. Only Alfonso Davis, Dayo Upamecano, Nusair Mazraoui and Raphael Gereiro were behind Kim.

However, the response from the U.K. was quite different. British media outlet “Sports Kida” selected the top five best center backs in the world in 2023, and Kim Min-jae proudly ranked first. “In modern soccer, center backs are not an era where defense is the only thing to do. A modern center back must have everything, including skills, ball play and understanding of tactics. I don’t need to think about it anymore,” he said, explaining why he chose Kim as the No. 1.

“Kim Min-jae moved to Munich after playing a big role in helping Napoli win the league title for the first time in 33 years. Since then, he has displayed high level of performance and outstanding leadership. He is widely known as one of the best center backs in the world,” he said.

Following Kim Min-jae, four players were named: Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool), William Saliba (Arnal), David Alaba (Real Madrid) in third, and Huvin Díaz (Manchester City) in second place.



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