Returning to Italy following two A-matches in September, Kim Min-jae of SSC Napoli became the first Asian soccer player to be named the Serie A Player of the Month. The 26-year-old played the entire time of the match to contribute to the team’s winning just four days after taking more than 12 hours to Napoli after a warm-up match with Cameroon.
In a starting lineup, Kim led Napoli to successfully defeat Torino by three to one in a home match, this year’s Round eight of the Serie A, Stadio Diego Armando Maradona, Napoli, on Saturday. As of Sunday, Napoli is leading the league thanks to the recent eight wins running this season.
Playing the two A-matches in full time on Sept. 23 and 27, Kim, seemingly still jet-lagged, was seen frowning and bending his waist forward in the 25th minute of the second half. However, he stayed focused, holding back the opposing team at every crucial moment.
Kim had four blocked shots, seven clearances, and two interceptions in each statistic, of which he did better than any player in the team. He even recorded as many as six recoveries or the act of gaining possession of the ball from the opponent. Sports data website SofaScore gave Kim the third highest score of 7.4 in Napoli.
Right before the match on Saturday, Kim received the trophy of “The Player of the Month” for September. Of the three matches played by Napoli in September (local time), Kim joined two games against Lazio and AC Milan from the start to the end. Keeping Serie A’s leading strikers Ciro Immobile and Olivier Giroud at bay, Kim even scored a goal in the match against Lazio. As of Sunday, Kim recorded 39 clearances, a defensive action where a player kicks the ball away from the goal, ranking 1st in the league. “Kim’s play well demonstrates how successful Napoli turned out to be in the summer transfer window,” said Luigi De Siervo, CEO of the Italian football league Lega Serie A. “Kim proved to be a real wall last month, capable of leading the defense and efficiently opposing two great Serie A strikers such as Ciro Immobile and Olivier Giroud.”
“I am happy to be part of Napoli,” Kim said after Saturday’s match. “Napoli Coach Luciano Spalletti is special. I believe I can improve my defensive skills with him.”
Even after returning to the national football team in 1 and a half years, Lee Kang-in did not join the two A-matches in September but showed impressive performance in his team. In a home match on Sunday against FC Barcelona, currently in the lead of Spain’s La Liga, he played from the beginning until the end. SofaScore gave him 7.3, the highest score in Mallorca. Losing a goal point to Robert Lewandowski, the league’s No. 1 scorer, in the 20th minute of the first half, Mallorca was defeated by zero to one.
Son Heung-min joined a starting lineup for Tottenham’s away match against Arsenal on Saturday but recorded no shot on target while Tottenham lost the match by one to three.
Bae-Jung Kim firstname.lastname@example.org