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Kim Min-jae named best defender in ‘country of defenders’

Kim Min-jae named best defender in ‘country of defenders’

Posted June. 05, 2023 07:50,   

Updated June. 05, 2023 07:50


When Kim Min-jae, who previously played for Fenerbahçe FC in the Turkey League, moved to Napoli in the Italian Serie A Liga last July, many Napoli fans were puzzled. Kim is one of the best defenders in South Korean soccer and has been performing nicely in the Turkey League, but he was still an unknown player on the European stage at the time.

However, Kim changed watchers’ low opinion of himself after just one season at Napoli. He was named Serie A's best defender for the 2022-2023 season. There were three finalists for the award, including Giovanni Di Lorenzo (Napoli) and Theo Hernandez (AC Milan), but Kim was the winner. At Napoli, Kim is now the player who would not be criticized even if he waters down his espresso.

Since the 2018-19 season, Serie A has been singling out the best players of the season in the goalkeeper, defender, midfielder, and striker categories, and this is the first time an Asian player has been named the best defender. In the inaugural year of the award, Kalidou Koulibaly was the Best Defender for the 2018-19 season. Kim also made the list of the 18-man Serie A Team of the Year, proving once again that he had the best season in his career. Kim was also named Serie A Player of the Month in September last year, a first for an Asian player.

Having played 3,054 minutes in 35 of his team's 38 Serie A games this season, Kim anchored the defense, helping lead Napoli to their first league title in 33 years. He started all 35 games, scored two goals, and posted two assists.

Kim will arrive in Korea Saturday afternoon and enter the army training center on June 15 to take three-week basic military training. He will not play in South Korea's two A matches in June. South Korea will play Peru in Busan on June 16 and El Salvador in Daejeon on June 20.