FC Bayern Target Min-Jae Kim: The Inside Story of "The Monster"

news 04-Jul-2023 Sport

FC Bayern Target Min-Jae Kim: The Inside Story of "The Monster"

According to multiple media reports, FC Bayern Munich is on the verge of signing Min-Jae Kim, who has been hailed by his current coach as the "best central defender" in the world. Min-Jae Kim has a lot on his plate right now. The center-back is using the summer break to fulfill his military service in South Korea. After that, he will apparently finalize his move to FC Bayern Munich. As reported by "Sport Bild", the German record champions have reached an agreement with the 26-year-old.

Although the 49-time South Korean international is technically still under contract with Italian champions SSC Napoli until the summer of 2025, FC Bayern will reportedly activate his release clause of 50 million euros to secure Kim's signing. The 1.90-meter tall defender could thus be the successor to Lucas Hernandez, who may potentially move to French top club Paris Saint-Germain.

Napoli coach sees Kim as the "best central defender in the world"

Luciano Spalletti, Kim's current coach at SSC Napoli, praises the defender highly: "Kim does at least 20 incredible things per game; for me, he truly is the best central defender in the world. When he starts his run and has the ball at his feet, within five seconds he can bring it into the opponent's penalty area. He is incredible, always aggressive."

Kim combines uncompromising defensive work with footballing abilities. According to "Kicker", in the 2022/23 season, he played the most forward passes among players in the top five European leagues (England, Germany, Italy, Spain, France) – a total of 1,057 passes. He also registered the third-most successful passes (2,547). This puts him seven places ahead of Bayern midfielder Joshua Kimmich (2,233).

This playing style would suit FC Bayern well as their other central defenders, such as Dayot Upamecano or Matthijs de Ligt, have deficiencies in game management. FC Bayern needs a central defender who, similar to Jerome Boateng or David Alaba in the past, can initiate attacks with long passes – a task Kim is capable of.

In terms of defensive capabilities, Kim shines with his speed and strength in duels. He plays so relentlessly that in Italy he gained the nickname "The Monster". "I really like it," Kim said in an interview with "The Guardian" about his nickname. "It highlights my positive qualities as a defender."

South Koreans are known for their discipline

German football coach Uli Stielike, who coached the South Korean national team from 2014 to 2017, believes that FC Bayern would make a good signing by acquiring Kim. "When a club signs a South Korean player, they can be assured that they don't have to worry about any off-field issues. For a coach, the discipline, work ethic, and eagerness to learn of South Koreans provide an excellent foundation for collaboration," Stielike said in an interview with "t-online.de".

"In the case of Min-Jae Kim, there is also proven high quality," Stielike explained, describing Kim as "strong in headers, uncompromising in duels, but also calm in building up play. At 26 years old and with experience playing abroad at three clubs, he is a mature professional."

From a fish transporter to his first international match

Kim grew up on the southern coast of South Korea and came from humble backgrounds. His parents ran a small sushi restaurant in Tongyeong, which led to an interesting story: When the young football player was first called up for the South Korean U-17 national team and had to travel to the northern part of South Korea, his father could only take him there in a fish transporter.

"The truck was very, very big, about 15 to 20 tons. It had a water tank where fresh fish could be placed," recalls Kim. "I was still very young, a bit shy, and felt embarrassed to arrive like that. The other kids came in regular cars. But it was a very good story for me. I am close to my father, and those are the moments that made me who I am today."

At the age of 22, Kim left South Korea and played in China, Turkey, and most recently in Italy. In the past season, he was named the Serie A Defender of the Season.

FC Bayern Becomes More Attractive for Asian Fans with Kim

For FC Bayern, signing Kim would not only be a strengthening move on the pitch but also a sensible acquisition from a marketing perspective. With a South Korean superstar like Kim, who was named in the All-Star squad at the 2019 Asian Cup, FC Bayern would become even more appealing in the Asian market.

Similar reasons led to the signing of Japanese player Takashi Usami in 2011, although he did not meet the sporting expectations. This is likely to be different with Kim.

The fact that FC Bayern is planning an Asian tour during the upcoming preseason and will be training and playing three friendly matches in Tokyo, Japan, and Singapore from July 24 to August 3 fits perfectly into this narrative.

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